Posts in 2018
Ngozi Tabbs

When Ngozi Tabbs learned more than three years ago that she had multiple sclerosis (MS), the diagnosis was difficult to process. As a social worker assisting people in Washington, DC, living with mental illness and homelessness, Ngozi (pronounced “Ann-ga-zee”) was a fierce and compassionate advocate for the people she worked with, and now had to advocate for herself as she navigated a new chapter in her life.

But for Ngozi, who put herself through college for both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees as a single mom, “no” or “can’t” was not an option. She was determined to get the expensive equipment she needed.

When the stairs in her southern Maryland home became difficult to use and she experienced several falls, Ngozi looked for funding to install a stair lift in her home for more than two years. After the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) pledged $1,500, Ngozi applied for an Eric Fund grant for the remainder of the more than $9,000 still needed for the stair lift. Due to extra funds raised the year prior, The Eric Fund board approved additional funding for Ngozi, with the remainder raised by the generous donors at The Eric Fund 20th Anniversary celebration in September, which Ngozi attended with her daughter.

Thanks to the generosity of The Eric Fund and its supporters in partnership with NMSS, Ngozi’s stair lift is completely funded. Her custom stair lift is being manufactured and will be installed soon. “I’m just so excited to get the equipment needed to assist me to keep me in my home,” she said.

2018Nate Nashawardee
Ammar Walcott

Ammar Walcott is the older of two autistic twins who just celebrated their 18th birthday. (He is also one of six children!) His autism primary affects his communication skills resulting in the need for a high level of support to participate in social and functional activities.

Ammar attends high school as part of a certificate program, where he receives special education, occupational therapy and speech therapy services. A visual learner, he has had success in school using an iPad, where visual applications like Boardmaker Online and ChoiceBoard Creator provide the visual and auditory cues that are most effective in getting him to “use his words” to express his needs.

These programs enable Ammar to access visual communication boards that help guide his verbal output. They also provide things like checklists, visual schedules and timers, which all help promote independence with completion of functional tasks like meal prep, cleaning and working tasks.

The Eric Fund is pleased to award Ammar his own iPad (and necessary apps) for use at home so that he can have continuity from school to home, a necessary component of his path toward increased independence. His mother was effusive with her appreciation, and loved the timing – he received his iPad so near his birthday, it felt like a birthday gift. “This is a real gift for Ammar,” she said, “and the ability to communicate better with Ammar is a gift for our entire family.”

2018Nate Nashawardee
Natalie Chirinos

Natalie Chirinos is a 15-year-old girl who is blind and has Dandy-Walker Syndrome, a disability that affects muscle coordination. Because she has difficulty standing safely without the assistance of a physical therapist, she is home-schooled by her grandmother, whose second language is English. Because of these numerous challenges, Natalie receives around-the-clock personal care. Her Support Coordinator in Prince William County reached out to The Eric Fund to help her apply for a standing walker – a device not covered by insurance – which would help Natalie transition safely from a sitting to standing position at home, an important “first step” toward performing this task independently and voluntarily. Being able to stand on her own will also help preserve Natalie’s existing range of motion.

“The Eric Fund is providing Natalie with the first piece of technology that she has ever had that will help her have some control over her actions and do something independently,” her support coordinator said. “It may seem like nothing, but to Natalie it has a hugely positive impact on her quality of life.”

2018Nate Nashawardee
Jake Jaffe

Jake Jaffe is a kind, loving 11-year-old boy who has Down syndrome and autism spectrum dis- order. The combination of these disabilities makes communication the most challenging issue that Jake confronts daily. He has challenges expressing himself verbally, and is only able to use two-word sentences to express his needs. Jake has difficulty connecting with other children because he doesn’t have the words to engage in social interactions.

Jake tried a variety of augmentative communication devices (AAC) but as his mom and speech pathologist observed him independently navigating the buttons on the Tobii Dynavox Indi, it was clear that that was the device he “clicked” with. They looked on as he became animated and excited, and interested in learning more.

The Jaffes learned about The Eric Fund by word-of-mouth from another family whose son had previously received a life-changing AAC device. They applied for partial funding, to cover the cost of the device that insurance wouldn’t cover, and were thrilled to learn that they had been chosen to receive it.

“The Eric Fund is truly a wonderful organization and we really, really appreciate all that you have done for us,” said Jake’s mom, Chiara.

“The device has made such a big difference in Jake’s life with respect to his ability to communicate with his teachers and peers. I read the [Eric Fund] newsletter as well, and it was so wonderful to see the huge impact that the funding has had on other people who needed assistive devices.”

2018Nate Nashawardee