Welcome to the second edition of Inclusion, UCP Wheels’ newsletter about our work around the world!

This month we're bringing you the story of Dodi, a young paraplegic man whose life has been transformed by having an appropriate wheelchair. We also have news about a couple of remarkable young fundraisers, and a story of courage and creativity from one of our Ukrainian clients.  Help us raise awareness of the importance of an appropriate wheelchair  by sharing the video with your family and friends. And thank you for your ongoing support!

Meet Dodi! 
Now it's me who invites my friend's to head out, not the other way around anymore. 
Dynamic Young Fundraisers Donate $2K!
(l-r) Dr. Ronald Cohen, CEO of UCPW, student fundraisers Gabrielle Matthews and Jenny Bobillo, and Alby Delgado, Development Assistant at UCPW.

Staff at UCP Wheels (UCPW) were delighted to welcome two dynamic young fundraisers for a tour of the non-profit organization’s headquarters in Los Angeles last month.

Gabrielle Matthews and Jenny Bobillo, both 14, visited UCPW following a donation of $2 thousand dollars to the organization. They raised the money through bake sales, babysitting and a Go Fund Me page, as part of a ‘Genius Project’ at St. Mel School in Woodland Hills, CA.

“The Genius Project gives us one hour a week to work on any project we want,” explained Gabrielle. “We decided to raise as much money for charity as we could.”

After researching charitable organizations across Los Angeles, Gabrielle and Jenny decided to donate to UCP Wheels for Humanity, “because when people think about donating to charity they think about donating food or money, but they don’t think about things like wheelchairs,” said Jenny. “I researched why people need wheelchairs and the challenges they face.” 

“I did research on how people with disabilities have a hard time making a living,” added Gabrielle. “It’s much harder for people with disabilities to get a job. That isn’t fair.”  

Commenting on the girls’ fundraising efforts and their decision to donate to UCP Wheels, Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Ronald Cohen said, “Gabrielle and Jenny have changed lives with this donation, which will provide appropriately-fitted wheelchairs for people in need. We are extremely grateful for their commitment to helping people with disabilities, and they should be extremely proud of what they have achieved.”

Olena's Story

UCP Wheels’ empowerment programs link people with disabilities and their families to local resources, and establish community support networks to educate and create opportunities. Our program team in Ukraine, together with Ukraine’s National Assembly of PWD (NAPD), conducts professional and vocational trainings, employer sensitization trainings, and small business trainings. Participants of the latter are eligible to enter a mini-grant competition, which provides winners with funding to start their own businesses.

Olena, a wheelchair user, was one of the mini-grant recipients. After being forced to flee her home due to the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Olena and her daughter Natalia settled in the small city of Druzhkivka in Oblast province. Income for the pair was very tight, and having a disability made it harder for Olena to find work. A craft project that Natalia was working on proved to be a major turning point, and the catalyst for a new career.

Olena with some of her brightly colored, hand-made toys. 

"It all started when my daughter sewed two soft bunnies,” explains Olena. “Friends mentioned some workshops where you can learn how to manufacture soft toys, and I became interested in it."

She and Natalia created a line of charming, brightly colored dolls and animals, and Olena discovered that she loved the creative process. She also learned about the opportunity to participate in business training and apply for a mini grant. "Winning the grant was a pleasant surprise,” she says. “I thank all the organizers who helped me buy a sewing machine and an iron. Soon we will create a website, which will have all the detailed information about our products."

Olena is now selling these beautiful toys at fairs and exhibitions all over Ukraine. She offers the following advice to other people with disabilities thinking about starting their own business, "First of all, do not be afraid. Secondly, use all the opportunities that allow you to make your ideas a reality. Take risks and you will get there!”


Don't miss one of the most buzzed about events in LA, our annual Wheels in Motion Gala! 

Skirball Cultural Center,
Saturday, September 29

Become a sustaining donor. 

By making a recurring monthly donation, you make a lasting commitment to the delivery of appropriately fitted wheelchairs to individuals in need. Join today! 

Copyright © 2018 UCP Wheels for Humanity, All rights reserved.

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