Disabled Man Seeks Disability Grants For Wheelchair Accessible Van Or Conversion
by Allen Sauvageau
(Lewisville, NC, USA)
My name is Allen. I am looking for disability grants or any sort of help to get a wheelchair accessible van or a wheelchair van conversion.
I am 45 years old. I have been disabled since birth with Spina Bifida, and since 2003 with renal dysfunction.
For five years I have been married to my beautiful wife and have a teenage stepdaughter.
I worked until 2003. At that time, my kidneys began to fail and give me more problems than normal. Because of the renal dysfunction, I had to stop working and go on disability.
I have not been able to keep a full-time job since. I am in and out of the hospital so often that no employer will take much chance on me.
My spina bifida disability has not progressed and my kidneys are stable at this point. But I have to have a procedure done each month to make sure I stay stable.
My wife is the only person who is able to work in the household. She is also a caregiver for four people.
In 2007, I was in an accident that totaled my van. In 2008, we purchased a new van that was not equipped for me to drive or even get into without my wife lifting me.
Vocational Rehabilitation of North Carolina was supposed to help me get the needed modifications.
After going back and forth for four months, the agency finally told me that they would pay for the modifications. That process has not been completed.
After spending over $3000 of my own money to get the van up to the standards Vocational Rehab required, the state denied my request.
The state agency cited their "rules" that the vehicle have fewer than 60,000 miles on it and be fewer than 5 years old. This denial finally came in April 2011.
My van had more miles than they wanted when we bought it. It was also older than the allotted 5 years. My counselor knew this fact and the state knew this when I submitted estimates for repairs (which, as I said before, I had already paid for out of my own pocket).
My wife and I cannot afford to purchase another vehicle, new or used, Because of transportation issues, I cannot even look for part-time work to help pay bills for the household.
Public transportation is too expensive and the county transportation aid only takes reservations for services two weeks in advance. This is not feasible due to the number of doctors' appointments that my family and I have.
As a result we need help in acquiring a wheelchair accessible van or doing a wheelchair van conversion of an existing vehicle.
I have tried to look for money from several different sources. My church raised money for me, but that money would not purchase a vehicle I could drive.
I worked part-time in 2005, but that job ended because I was told that there was not enough work to justify my position.
I have looked for grants online and money from different disability organizations. Most of these organizations only help people with specific disabilities, and Spina Bifida is not one of those disabilities.
I have written auto manufacturers. The manufacturers do not have programs to help people unless the individual purchases a brand new vehicle.
I even contacted a local dealership that specializes in modifications for the disabled, but they cannot do all the modifications needed.
I am more than willing to go to work part-time after the work is done, but I need the van to be able to find work. I have even tried to work from home, owning my own business, but that, too, did not help.
I am looking for a disability grant, or financial grants, to help me in either of two ways.
One way would be to help me purchase a new wheelchair accessible van that is equipped for me to drive.
The other way would be to do a wheelchair van conversion, in other words to help make the necessary modifications to our existing van.
I do not need a brand new vehicle. I cannot drive a full-size van, so I am looking specifically for a grant that will purchase a minivan.
I am not really looking for a business startup grant, but, if I were, my idea would be to create a body-sized u-shaped pillow.
This special pillow would help nurses, nurse assistants, home health workers, and nursing home workers to turn the patient and keep then an their side while also supporting the head at the same time.
As of this point, I have no projections because this is just in the idea stage. I'm not ready to pursue any business grant funding at this point.