Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ms. Wheelchair America and State Associations – a perfect match

The New England Medical Equipment Dealers Association (NEMED) began supporting the Ms. Wheelchair America program in the New England area about three years ago. We had heard about the program many times through VGM but it wasn’t until we met Laurel Labdon, Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts 2005, that we became hooked. Laurel had arranged a program at the State House and several NEMED members attended. We were so impressed with her that we continued to support her efforts whenever possible. That same year, NEMED sponsored Laurel’s trip to D.C. for the AAHomecare legislative conference. I have made the trip to D.C. many times over the past 10 years. Having Laurel in the room was an amazing experience. Hearing her story gave life to the issues we have been discussing for years and had a great impact. Everyone who met Laurel fell in love with her. This has been our experience with every Ms. Wheelchair America representative we’ve worked with. They are amazing women.

NEMED has organized a silent auction at our annual meeting for the past three years to raise money for the program in New England. We have been able to support several candidates in several states over the past few years. Our Ms. Wheelchair America fund has paid the entrance fees for several state delegates ($1,500) and has contributed funds to pageants in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. We formed a committee comprised of NEMED members in all six states to try to get a program up and running in each New England state. It has been a challenge to accomplish this but we continue to work at it. Currently there are two active programs- Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

These women are amazing advocates for our industry. State associations can benefit from becoming involved with the program.

Guest Blogger- Karyn Estrella, Executive Director of NEMED

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