It was an exciting day for the Guild for Exceptional Children on Tuesday, June 21, as Assemblymember Felix Ortiz presented the not-for-profit organization with a check for the $50,000 needed to buy a new, wheelchair-accessible van.
Over the last year, the GEC has been in dire need of the vehicle, as its fleet of vans has gradually decreased over time due to theft and age, resulting in only a single wheelchair-accessible van for the many elderly and disabled people who are consumers with GEC.
After seeing the article in this newspaper about the Guild’s dilemma, Ortiz made it his mission to help, and successfully secured an allocation from state funds, which was handed over at Guild headquarters to the Guild’s Executive Director, Paul Cassone, in front of staff and some GEC clients.
“When I read that you guys needed money and were trying to fundraise for a van, I immediately instructed my staff to do something about it,” Ortiz announced.
According to Cassone, most of the people the Guild serves are 50 or older. Mobility for them is difficult, and the vans are the only way to get them to volunteer sites and jobs.
“I’ve had GEC clients self-advocating for a van everyday in my office for quite a long time,” said Cassone. “Needless to say, everyone is very excited and grateful.”