Posts in 2002
Jamisha Williams
Jamisha Williams.jpg

Seven-year-old Jamisha Williams is positioned for success both at home and at school thanks to the positioning chair purchased for her by The Eric Fund.

Jamisha’s mother, Treliease, made several attempts to secure funding from government agencies and insurance companies to replace the positioning chair Jamisha had outgrown. As a single mother living in Washington, DC, with two children, Ms. Williams often found it difficult to supply Jamisha – who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and who is non-verbal and non–ambulatory – with special adaptive equipment on her salary. Despite Ms. Williams’s persistence, however, the government agencies offered no assistance and her insurance companies would not cover the chair as it exceeded the allowable amount. 

That’s when Ms. Williams turned for help to Jamisha’s therapist, Lesley Douglas, at St. Coletta School of Greater Washington in Alexandria, Virginia. Ms. Douglas found out about The Eric Fund’s grant awards and encouraged Ms. Williams to apply.

With a more than $800 grant from The Eric Fund, a growing Jamisha can now use a positioning chair that will grow with her. She uses the chair both at school and at home where it allows her to sit in various positions throughout the day, a function that is critical to her development. Thanks to the new chair, Jamisha now has many more opportunities to participate in activities and interact with her classmates, family and friends.

2002Nate Nashawardee
Katherine Montgomery

Katherine Montgomery looks forward to the day when a room of kids can call her teacher.

Katherine is a 21-year-old freshman at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia.  She is pursuing an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts with a goal of teaching upon graduation.  

While she received good support from the Fairfax Public Schools as a high school student, Katherine, like many other students with disabilities transitioning out of the school system, found herself without the school-provided services or equipment on which she relied once she graduated. 

That’s when she turned to The Eric Fund. With the Fund’s help, Katherine is on her way to achieving her goal. The Eric Fund, with help from its generous donors, has granted Katherine more than $2,500 for a laptop computer that will enable her to take notes in class and complete school assignments that require a good deal of writing with voice-activated software. The Eric Fund will also provide her with a Microsoft Works suite that includes word and e-mail programs as well as access to the Internet –tools that every successful college student needs.

In addition to school and studying, Katherine enjoys hanging out with her friends, some of whom she met at an Easter Seals-sponsored camp, which she has attended since she was 14. The camp counselors come from all over the world to gain knowledge and experience from the campers and in turn expose them to a wider world.  Katherine’s email buddy list includes friends from England, Holland, and Australia.  

The Eric Fund is proud to support Katherine in becoming a teacher of tomorrow. 

2002Nate Nashawardee
Monay Gross

On April 10, 2002, 12-year-old Monay Gross saw independence from a new point of view – a bicycle seat. At a Mobility Day event, Monay, a Washington, DC pre-teen with cerebral palsy, rode an adaptive tricycle for the first time on her own – pedaling, steering and braking by her own power.

In an effort to help Monay continue to experience the joy, freedom and confidence she got from riding the tricycle by herself, Monay’s physical therapist, Claire Wong, began working with local disability groups to secure funding to buy Monay a trike of her own. At nearly $4,200 per trike, this was a tall order. 

Ms. Wong knew that in addition to the emotional benefits, the adaptive tricycle provided Monay with much needed physical therapy, cardiovascular and balance training. As Monay grew taller, she began experiencing balance loss and could stand only a brief time without the support of her arm or a walker. While she uses a power wheelchair at school and in the community, Monay must use a manual wheelchair in the small home she shares with her grandmother. Due to the home’s design, Monay must walk in certain areas that cannot accommodate her wheelchair. Because Monay’s grandmother is her primary caregiver and cannot provide a lot of physical assistance, it is imperative that Monay develop and maintain her mobility for her daily activities.

Monay can now stay on the road physical and cardiovascular therapy thanks to The Eric Fund and its donors. Supplementing the $1,075 donated by Silver Spring, Maryland’s SEEC, The Eric Fund granted Monay $3,250 to purchase an Adventurer adaptive tricycle with a special stationery trainer that lets her ride the trike indoors as well as outdoors with her friends. 

Monay enjoys the freedom of riding her adaptive tricycle in her neighborhood and exercising outside in the fresh air. She is also looking forward to riding in the cold. While her friends have to put their bicycles away for the winter, Monay can continue to ride at home, as she motors on to improved physical fitness.

2002Nate Nashawardee
Jack Mattalug
Jack Mattalug.png

For 19-year-old Jack Mattalug, becoming the architect of his own future is a top priority. “I want to be an architect or an engineer”, said Jack. “I enjoy studying art and math and I like working on the computer.”  

Jack’s desire and determination is even more impressive when you consider the challenges he faces.  Jack, a resident of Bethesda, Maryland, has both visual and hearing impairments. He has an artificial left eye and minimal vision in his right. He also has moderate hearing loss in his right ear and wears a hearing aid. 

But with assistive technology, Jack is meeting his challenges head on and succeeding. In 2002, the honor roll student at Rockville High School was accepted into the competitive drafting and design program at Thomas Edison School of Technology. Jack takes academic classes at Rockville High and then participates in the half-day program at Edison, also part of the Montgomery County Public School system. Jack takes Computer Aided Design classes (CAD) as part of his pre-engineering and architecture training at Edison, drafting plans and creating architectural and engineering designs. 

Since creating these designs involves seeing and drawing intricate details, The Eric Fund awarded Jack a closed circuit TV (CCTV) with a color monitor to help him read the diagrams, teacher corrections and text books essential to his studies. To help Jack hear more effectively in class, The Eric Fund also awarded Jack an FM System to help him filter out background noises during class. The FM system allows a teacher to wear a microphone to transmit the lesson directly to Jack’s FM system, allowing him to hear better and concentrate. The school system allowed him to use the FM system and CCTV on a trial basis, but in order to succeed, Jack needed to own the equipment so he can use it at home for homework, in school and take it with him when he goes to college. And since the insurance company does not deem the equipment, while essential to his success and development, medically necessary, the cost is not covered. “Jack is harder working than any other student I have all day long,” says his pre-engineering teacher. “He is a joy to work with. An ‘A’ student.”

His vision teacher at Rockville High, Arlene Mak, who told Jack about The Eric Fund Fund, agrees. “Jack is one of those kids who touches people. No matter who he comes into contact with, he shines through and people recognize what a great, driven kid he is,” Ms. Mak says.

Jack’s mother, Dominga Tayem, was thrilled that her son was receiving an Eric Fund Grant. When she immigrated to the United States in 1984 from the Philippines as a nanny for a diplomatic family, she did so with the intent of eventually bringing Jack, his two sisters and her husband over to enjoy a better life in the United States and to get better services for Jack. She was separated from her family for 11 years, until she established citizenship in 1996 and was able to bring her family over to join her.  

Ms. Tayem says Jack has blossomed in the  six years he has been in the U.S. and she is grateful for all of the opportunities he has been given in the school system. She works several jobs to help support her family and send her kids to college. “Education is very important to me. It’s important to improve your life, especially here in America,” says Ms. Tayem. “I want my kids to have every opportunity to get a good job and be what they want to be.”

For all she has done for him and his family, Jack tells his mom he is going to design a house for her one day. “It is the greatest thing to hear that. But I told him I don’t want a big house. I don’t want to be cleaning it,” she says with a laugh.

2002Nate Nashawardee