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Accessible Transportation Means Independence for Connor

The McCarthy’s are a family who knows that life can change in an instant. Paul and Tanya McCarty live in Battleground, Washington with their two children. At the young age of sever, Conor, their son, was diagnosed with Ullrich Muscular Dystrophy, a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. The doctors thought that he had only a mild case, but then things changed.

United Access Conor McCarthy

Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy is a condition that mainly affects skeletal muscles (the muscles used for movement). Affected individuals show severe muscle weakness soon after birth, develop stiff joints (contractures) in their knees and elbows, and may have an unusual range of movement (hypermobility) in their wrists and ankles. Some of the debilitating symptoms of this disease include respiratory failure, scoliosis, and hip dislocation.

The last two years have been difficult for everyone in the family, but mostly for Conor. Conor stopped walking just before the 6th grade; contractures formed in his knees and elbows. Recently, Conor underwent a surgery to put rods into his back as a result of his scoliosis. Conor’s lungs are functioning at 29% of normal capacity.

“We, thankfully, do have a 2006 minivan,” says Mrs. McCarthy. “This is the only car we are able to get him [Conor] in and out of at this time due to the contractures in his knees. My kids go to a private school with no bus service, so we drive them back and forth daily. We have to lift my son in and out of the front seat.” As a result, Conor has chosen not to leave the house except for school. The lifting, pushing and pulling to transfer him in and out of the minivan has become too much for him. He says it hurts and he is afraid that his parents will get hurt as well.

Thanks to the Steelman Family Foundation, a few private donors, and the family’s own funds, the McCarthy family will be driving away in their beautiful midnight blue, side-entry, Honda Odyssey minivan from United Access [12905 NE Airport Way, Portland, OR 97230]. “Having an accessible van where Conor can easily enter and exit on his own is life changing for us. We will be able to do things as a family again and Conor will have his independence back.”

For more information about the Steelman Family Foundation, visit www.steelmanfamilyfoundation.org. For more information about United Access, visit www.unitedaccess.com.

Helping the Hardin Family on Their Road to Independence

Freedom to move around is something most people take for granted. For families like Steve and Jessica Hardin, this is not something they take lightly. Their three-year old son, Noah, suffers from Freeman Sheldon Syndrome, a condition that primarily affects the face, hands, and feet. Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome is also characterized by joint deformities that restrict movement. People with this disorder typically have multiple contractures in the hands and feet at birth as well as severe scoliosis. Last summer Noah got his first power wheelchair and has loved exploring his world on his own.

With this new power wheelchair comes even more challenges with transportation. The Hardins currently drive Noah in their small SUV, which is now too small and doesn’t come with a ramp or lift to help Noah and his new 300-pound power wheelchair in and out of the SUV.

“Our plan is to sell this vehicle and put the proceeds toward a wheelchair accessible van so that we can transport Noah’s chair,” said Jessica Hardin. “In addition, this would enable us to transport Noah while he’s seated in his chair. As Noah is getting bigger, it will be more challenging to lift him into his adapted car seat, particularly for my husband, who also has Freeman Sheldon Syndrome.” Currently, Noah’s power wheelchair has to remain at home or at preschool when the bus transports him back and forth to his developmental preschool.

“The stories we hear every day and the smiles we see on our customers faces when they drive away for the first time, fuel our passion for the work we do,” said United Access Founder, Richard May.

Thanks to the generosity of the Steelman Family Foundation, the Hardin family will be driving away in their new 2016 BraunAbility Dodge Caravan today at the United Access [formerly Performance Mobility at 12905 NE Airport Way, Portland, OR 97230].

“We are dedicated to giving back to the community that has given so much to us,” said René Steelman, founder of the Foundation.

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For more information about the Steelman Family Foundation, visit www.steelmanfamilyfoundation.org. For more information about United Access, visit www.unitedaccess.com.

Tips on Side-Gig Success for Caregivers without the Added Stress

by Guest Blogger, Beverly Nelson

Holding down a regular, full-time job can be impossible if you are a caregiver, but you still need a way to cover your financial responsibilities. That’s why more and more family caregivers are looking to side gigs to fill that gap in income. Balancing a gig with your duties as a caregiver can be a challenge, so use these tips to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed.

Work on Enhancing Your Hiring Skills

Side gigs are all about flexibility, but that does not mean you shouldn’t be prepared for the hiring process. Even if you are interviewing for a temporary position, prospective employers may still expect you to go through a fairly standard application process. A well-organized, concise resume is essential at any stage of your career, and you can use a resume template to take the guesswork out of this tricky document. Free online resume templates can help you get familiar with the basic resume structure and fill in the blanks for you.

While you’re working on your resume, you may want to brush up on your interview know-how as well. Chances are you will at least need to complete some casual interviews in order to get hired for your gig job, so do your homework when it comes to the most common interview questions. Practice your answers and have an elevator speech ready at all times. You never know when you will meet a prospective client — and you always want to “wow” them when you do. Just like your interview answers, practice can help you perfect your intro, so spend some time really polishing what you plan to say.

Job Interview

Find a Gig That Compliments Caregiving

Gig Work Checklist Fast Easy Flexible 3d Illustration

Gigs are a go-to income source for those looking for maximum flexibility, which is what makes this kind of work perfect for caregivers. Another great thing about gig jobs, however, is that there are opportunities to get paid for just about any skill, so you can use what you already have or have a passion for. If you love animals and like staying active, you can get started as a dog sitter for your neighbors and friends. Online sitter sites have made it fairly simple to get started and you can even look after pets in your own home.

If pets just are not your thing, however, there are still an abundance of gig jobs you can try. Many of the highest paying gigs are even jobs you can do from the comfort of your home. This can make a real difference when you need to be around to provide care for a loved one. Being a medical coder or marketing consultant takes a higher level of skill set, however, but know that other side gigs require little to no prior experience. If you’re not sure which job to settle on, don’t be afraid to try different gigs until you find one that fits.

Take Your Self-Care Time Seriously

Starting a successful side gig can relieve financial tension, but you have to make sure your new gig does not lead to additional stress in other areas of your life. Caregiver burnout can be a serious risk for those who are providing daily care for family members. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself with a lack of energy, an inability to focus, and other physical symptoms that can interfere with your new gig, as well as your personal responsibilities. So, always set aside some time for self-care. Work some self-care basics into your morning routine, such as nourishing your body and meditation, to keep yourself in a positive frame of mind. Meditation can be especially helpful for caregivers, so consider setting up a quiet space where you can practice on a regular basis. This distraction-free area can also serve as a home office, which will give you more focus when it comes to your side gig.

Striking a balance between caregiving and earning an income can help relieve so much tension and give you some financial freedom. However, be careful not to overextend yourself, and use these tips to make getting started easy.