DEAR ABBY: All of us at the Westside Center for Independent Living thank you for not only making the impossible happen for us, but also for making our everyday wishes come true.
Who would have thought nine years ago that WCIL would have orders from all over the country for our "Please Call Police" banners? Thank you on behalf of each individual whose quality of life was improved because of the orders and donations we received from your readers. The funds generated by the banner project have translated into some vital services and wonderful stories. Here are just a few from last year:
-- Exhausted from the constant caring for his wife who has Alzheimer's disease, Charles H. sought help from WCIL's "Linkages" program. We helped him locate and pay for a personal assistant, so he now has some respite from his wife's care.
-- Erika didn't want her disability to keep her from being self-sufficient and supporting her son. She completed WCIL's computer training program and now works full-time at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center.
-- Juan G.'s motorized wheelchair broke down just two weeks after he had become employed. WCIL helped him obtain $500 in emergency funding so he could quickly return to work.
-- Anita V. has multiple disabilities and is dependent on disability benefits to survive. When she was threatened with the loss of this funding, WCIL helped her get through the bureaucratic maze and resolve her problem.
-- Steve S. was struggling with chronic pain due to multiple surgeries and degenerative diseases. After receiving peer counseling and training in independent living skills at WCIL, Steve said, "I feel like I've been given back my life."
-- Loraine B. came to WCIL seeking counseling to learn to live with her disability, and also received help in learning how to resolve some problems she was having with her housing providers.
Thank you, Abby, for once again publicizing our "Please Call Police" banner project. I'm sure it will bring many more such stories, and once again, WCIL's mission is to ensure happy endings for all of them. -- MARY ANN JONES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WCIL, LOS ANGELES
DEAR MARY ANN: Congratulations for the terrific job you are doing to assist people with disabilities. With the holiday season fast approaching, I'm pleased to remind readers that the "Please Call Police" banners make wonderful stocking-stuffers. They can literally be lifesavers in a roadside emergency. Having them in the glove compartment brings incalculable peace of mind not only to senior citizens, but also to parents of teen-age drivers.
To order, write WCIL-Banners, P.O. Box 92501, Los Angeles, Calif. 90009. You will receive one "Please Call Police" banner as a premium for a $5 contribution to WCIL, and another banner with each additional $4 contribution. (Please send an additional $1 per order for postage and handling.) Many people order two, one for the windshield and one for the rear window -- so the message is visible to cars going both directions.
Checks or money orders (U.S. funds only, please) should be made payable to WCIL-Banners. Allow eight weeks for delivery.
The Westside Center for Independent Living is a not-for-profit organization that helps people with disabilities to live independently.