DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
"Leslie" is a part-time aide at Kalihi Kai Elementary School. Her youngest child is autistic. In a Star-Bulletin article on Sunday, Leslie had requested a device called GoTalk to help her son. An online company that sells the device saw the article and sent a GoTalk to the family.
A mother’s call for help is heard
A Star-Bulletin article brings much-needed aid for an autistic boy
Christmas came early for an Oahu family struggling to make ends meet and hoping their autistic boy would one day talk.
"Leslie," not her real name, wished for an expensive device called a GoTalk that might help her 6-year-old son speak.
EnableMart.com heard her wish.
Leslie expressed her desire in a Star-Bulletin article that appeared Sunday, promoting Community Clearinghouse's Adopt-a-Family program for those in need.
The online company EnableMart.com, which sells assistive technology devices for the disabled, sent the GoTalk 20+ -- retailing at $249 -- to Community Clearinghouse yesterday for Leslie's son, according to Maria Chomyszak, program manager.
"The hair on my body is standing on end," Leslie said when she first heard of the gift. Through tears she added, "Oh, this is so beautiful! This is awesome. I really appreciate it."
The GoTalk 20+ has a 100-message capacity, which can be programmed with often-used pictures and text for each of the 20 buttons.
Leslie and her husband are raising five children and taking care of her elderly mother in a two-bedroom home on salaries that barely cover their expenses.
While it was difficult getting up the nerve to ask for help, "when it comes to my kids, I have to be at the front of the line," she said.
She added, "It was a big surprise that I let people know I needed help and that they (helped) me. That's a blessing."
Sara Derkacht, director of customer relations at EnableMart.com, said her Vancouver, Wash.-based company learned of Leslie's wish through Google.
"We thought, 'We would love to be able to participate,'" she said. "It will probably made a world of difference for him. It's exciting."
"We are advocates first, before (being) a profit-making company. We found there was a great need to be a middleman between the person who needs the device and the person who makes it," Derkacht said of the 7-year-old company, which distributes some 3,000 assistive technology products.
EnableMart gives away three to four products a month based on an individual's need and the sincerity of a person's request, she said. A locally based partner company will also provide technical support to Leslie and her son, Derkacht added.
Contributing to the good neighbor fund
The Star-Bulletin's Good Neighbor Fund will take donations until Dec. 31, and will list donor names in the paper until Jan. 11.
Monetary gifts may be sent to: Honolulu Star-Bulletin's Good Neighbor Fund, c/o Helping Hands Hawaii, P.O. Box 17780, Honolulu, Hawaii 96817-0780.
In addition, checks (not cash or gifts) made out to the Good Neighbor Fund can be dropped off at any First Hawaiian Bank branch from Tuesday through Dec. 31.
Clothing, household items and gifts can be donated at the Community Clearinghouse, 2100 Nimitz Highway.
Call 440-3804 for information about the program or to arrange for pickup of large items.
You may also participate in the Adopt-A-Family program, in which businesses, employee groups, social clubs, families or individuals can help a specific family. For information, call 536-7234, ext. 804.