Editor’s Note: Individuals at the National Spinal Cord Injury Association had been watching and learning about Rafferty Laredo for many years. They knew of his passion to help people with spinal cord injuries, and they recognized a strong need for a Chapter in Houston, Texas. When the decision was made to try and develop a support system in Houston, this opportunity was presented to Laredo. Part 5 of a 5 part series.
“Living Hope is a group of about 75 to 100 individuals in the Houston area who all have spinal cord injuries,” Laredo explains. “They all have very limited or no financial resources. We respect and want to help this organization, because they have developed very creative ways to survive, with very little money. For instance, they’ve sold tacos and roses on the side of the road to raise enough money to buy the catheters necessary for them to drain their bladders and to survive. I’ve even heard stories of this group doing the unheard of – sharing catheters, which is a medical taboo. It may be the only means these people have to live because they don’t have the resources to get catheters with health insurance. NSCIA Houston has helped Living Hope by accessing donations to provide them with thousands of catheters for a better, safer and cleaner way for them to live. This was a beautiful expression of our community pulling together to serve those in need.”
Many people don’t realize how great the need is to help individuals with spinal cord injuries, not only in the Houston area, but throughout the country. Most people never understand how many individuals are in need of some type of support group within a community, unless you’re a medical professional or are in some way affected by or know people with spinal cord injuries. As Laredo explains, “What’s really great and amazing about the Living Hope organization, is that it functions like one big family. The members really help and take care of one another. My hope is that the entire city of Houston will function in much the same way.”
Laredo has big plans for the future for NSCIA Houston. Here are some of his ideas:
* Education – “We’d like to establish programs that provide education to employers and schools to adequately and enthusiastically welcome employees and students with spinal cord injuries. We also hope to bring to Houston advanced clinical education programs and seminars for healthcare professionals committed to spinal cord injury care.”
* Research – “We support efforts for advanced research to promote recovery, progress, and increased quality of life after spinal injury.”
* Arts – “We’re also actively developing and expandingHouston’s adaptive arts community. Houston has a very-strong sports program but not a strong arts program for our talented local artists with disabilities. We hope to establish programs with a focus on visual arts, creative writing, dance, and the performing arts. We want to encourage self-expression and public awareness through adaptive arts clinics and art exhibition.
* Community Re-Integration – “We’re identifying opportunities for a variety of community outings for the spinal cord injury community, sponsored by the organization and generous contributions from Houston donors. We also hope to partner with local hospitals to serve newly-injured patients and their caregivers. We envision trips to the symphony, to all the major Houston sports venues, museums, concerts, and more. These types of outings will help our members living with SCI know and feel comfortable engaging in the community freely, just as everyone else does.”
* Volunteer Activities – “We also want our members to invest in volunteerism and support with and for other charitable organizations. I really feel like our network functions much-stronger when multiple non-profits work together.”
* Accessible Travel – “We hope to establish greater accessibility and travel experiences for our Houston members living with spinal cord injury. We’re investigating possibilities for taking cruises out of Galveston, Texas, to enable our members to experience international travel.”
* Funding – “We’re actively seeking strong opportunities to increase the funding we have in order to continue to help the Houston SCI community. NSCIA Houston can only survive and sustain our initiatives through the generous support of foundation grants, corporate and individual sponsorship and donations. It is a critically important cause; spinal cord injury can happen to any of us at any time.”
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Laredo has a big vision for this flourishing non-profit organization. He has taken on the challenge of bettering the lives of individuals with spinal cord injuries. Although he may not change the world, he is changing the world where he lives, and the world will be a better place for all of us due to his efforts.
About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com