Aug. 24, 2008 — A new nonprofit group that raises funds to assist individuals with disabilities and their families has already made a difference in the life of disabled 18-moth-old on St. Thomas.
Until recently, DeQuanni Donavan spent most of his time either lying down or in his mother's arms. He lives with his parents and older sister in a residence too small for the equipment that would enable him to sit upright and enjoy some independent movement and more visual stimulation.
Jacqueline Watson met DeQuanni as his occupational therapist. She recognized that therapy would be limited due to the familys living conditions and lack of resources. To address situations like this, Watson founded the Virgin Islands Therapy Association (VITA) along with other St. Thomas therapists.
"Unfortunately, there are many other local families struggling with lack of resources to cope with their disabilities and there is lack of awareness in the community that help is needed," said Watson. "The goal of VITA is to spread the word and get others involved by donating time, resources or funds. Every little bit makes a huge difference in the quality of a life like DeQuannis."
Through VITA, Watson spread the word that the Donovan family home needed a makeover to create a functional living space, room for therapists to treat him and provide adaptive equipment for DeQuannis development.
Paint Depot provided paint and supplies, McDonalds donated cash for building supplies and linens, Cyclone Fencing gave badly needed kitchen appliances, Kim Morrow donated storage solutions and other private donations went towards purchasing items for De'Quanni to play with. Others gave of their time to clean, paint, install shelving and a new bathroom vanity, and organize the space to give the family the room to help their son.
DeQuanni now has a chance to benefit from therapy. He happily plays with his sister and new interactive light and music toys from a sitting position.
Among those lending a hand were Pam and Simon Larsen, Cara Grasman, Joshua Cole of Genoa Construction, Phillip Britton, Kim Moholland and Robinson Bodre of Bay Painters, Eileen Short, Candance Robinson and MLB Creative.
Watson intends to coordinate other projects like this and encourages individuals and businesses on all Virgin Islands to be involved.
For more information on VITA, upcoming events and how you can help, contact Jacqueline Watson at 340-642-7730 or visit the VITA website.
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