Accessing Oregon

I (Jordan D Meekins-President at Accessing Oregon Inc.) am a disabled Oregonian who has struggled for the last 9 years to find accessible employment, transportation, fitness activities, services, goods, hunting, fishing, camping and outdoor adventuring in Oregon. In my struggles I have found that there are many barriers for individuals with disabilities in Oregon, many of which are violations of ADA regulations. But we here at Accessing Oregon Inc. feel that there has to be a better way to promote accessibility while creating beneficial relationships between consumers, business owners, government and our organization, rather than litigation. We promote alternative cost effective methods to provide individuals with access to all facilities indoor/outdoor in order to achieve equal access for all in Oregon. We have found that there are many resources out there for people to return to work, live unassisted, obtain assistive equipment or obtain accessible transportation, and we will add our services to this list in order to serve our disabled community. In addition to the above accessibility issues, Oregon's terrain is difficult and dangerous for people with limited physical mobility who wish to access public parks, hunting, fishing, sporting, or recreational activities. This realization sparked my curiosity to see what type of programs existed to assist the mobility impaired to access Oregon’s outdoors, in which my co-founder and I found there are limited existing programs. There is a hunting licensing program, but there is ample room for improvement. Also if you work in the outdoors, river access, boat ramps, trail paths, and barriers can prevent you from operating your business, and our efforts will protect your investments. These above challenges have inspired an idea to help ourselves and those who want to access Oregon, to create a support system that allows people to achieve their dreams and regain freedom with our business, Accessing Oregon. We are raising funds to acquire accessible vehicles, to fabricate assistive equipment, to retrofit existing facilities, to provide facilities that are accessible, and to provide counseling for individuals who seek our assistance. Our services will come at no monetary cost in order to be mutually beneficial for everyone involved. For the physically challenged, elderly, children with disabilities, families of people with impairments etc. it is a constant challenge to adapt to a life with disability without considerable resources. Adaptable equipment is incredibly expensive and difficult to acquire with limited budgets, and according to the US census bureau individuals with disabilities are the most underprivileged and lacking in resources within the United States. We want to tackle this challenge head on by raising funds, awareness and resources for our non-profit to serve Oregon's disabled community. We are inviting anyone and everyone who wants to help us by donating time, money, equipment, or better yet coming out and being a part of our activities. Please check us out at http://accessingoregon.org/ to see what we have accomplished to date, and how you can help. Thank you! JOIN US! Together we can access Oregon. Contact us at [email protected] 541-905-4032

02/15/2018

Hey friends and family, there is a guy names Josh Gess who works for OSU who started a movement to help people with mobility impairments to access recreational, and competitive sports. He has a wheelchair basketball team that has 9 new specialized chairs for folks who are looking to get out and get some competitive exercise. Come out to OSU and support him, whether you have an impairment or not. Trust me, you will have a blast using these chairs no matter what your ability level. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/osurollingbeavers/

01/21/2018

After letting my initial statement sit out there for the last two days I have realized that I need to recognize a few other people that have been essential to Accessing Oregon's initial success. Travis Wigle was one of the first board members to join the team and he has been a reliable and steady member who was integral to the success of the our fundraisers and our partnering events. Robert Jaquiss, another good friend and team member who brought so much to the table and was a foundation part of our daily operations. Thank you both sincerely, and I look forward to the future and our continuing friendship.

Other folks I need to mention are Mike Aaron at Linked Up Vets for the incredible work he has done with veterans and local folks. Aaron Hand for his help and suggestions. Jerry Langholtz for his help and experience. I want to also send a special thanks to Spencer Wilberger as he was our very first donor when I initially started the whole project. As I said on the first post, please don't take it personally if I forgot you. So many people helped to make this happen, and I love and appreciate you for the support. Have a blessed Sunday.

01/20/2018

Hello supporters, friends and family,

I am writing this today with some sorrow in my heart as I have news about Accessing Oregon Inc. Over the years you have faithfully supported me and my team to raise awareness, money, and comradery for people who deal with disabilities in Oregon. You have been the lifeblood of this endeavor that began when I was jobless and recently graduated from OSU in 2013. Unfortunately I am bringing this chapter of my life to an end, for now... Accessing Oregon Inc. has been dissolved and is no longer a 501(c)3 in Oregon.

Please read on, and let me explain the circumstances, and give out some very special thanks to people who deserve the recognition. Also I want to bring attention to a different nonprofit that is doing incredible things for the people of Oregon. Please dedicate the support you have given me to Todd Logan at Adaptive Excursions.

I started Accessing Oregon to be a resource to people with disabilities. I also did it somewhat selfishly as I get a lot out of trying to inspire others and also spend time in the wilderness with great people while fishing, hunting, and camping. Let me give you some background.

As a man with a disability, I have had to cope with the shock and limitations that comes along with being injured and paralyzed in a motor vehicle accident. It has been a very long and hard journey, and I have been blessed beyond measure through these experiences and the people who have held me up when I fell. I have battled depression, alcoholism, custody for my child, losing my profession, going back to school, constant health issues, learning how to live again with a disability, and never losing hope. I give full credit to God as He helped me come through the darkest days and nights of my life to come out on the other side with some dignity, a great family, a job, and so much love that I do not deserve from people of this outstanding community.

Many people who are born with or who suddenly experience some sort of significant disability also experience some of the difficulties that I described before. Many people self-medicate and create more troubles in their life, as I did. Some others lock themselves away in their homes never wanting to venture out again into the world to lose more than they already have lost. Some people hate the stares they get from those who would want to help, and unintentionally patronize them (there is really no fault in this scenario, but it suggests that there is room to learn from parties on either side of the coin).

The discussion was the most important part of Accessing Oregon Inc. People who experience the disability and the people who want to help and support. There is no lack of people on either side, and I can attest to that from the incredible outpouring of support I received from the first day of AO. Back to the point though, the conversation and forum created by our digital and physical presence was what created opportunity for folks who needed support, equipment, or just an opportunity to talk to other people who have experienced a significant loss in their life.

Due to the complications and physical demands that come from working a 40 hour a week job and sitting upright at a desk, my ability to follow through with any activities for AO has diminished significantly. You may say, well what the heck I see you going on hunting and fishing trips all the time on Facebook or other places. My job is incredibly demanding emotionally, physically, and is time consuming. I’m a person too, who needs time to relax, and come to grips with the repercussions of serving people with disabilities in Oregon. I work for DHS vocational rehabilitation and I help people who have significant disabilities find work in Corvallis, Albany, Philomath and many other surrounding areas. I am doing what I wanted to do with Accessing Oregon, in my daily paid job. The amount of time and effort, as well as technical aspects of owning and operating an IRS 501(c)3 in Oregon requires an extraordinary amount of time and effort beyond family and personal responsibilities. I hate to admit it, but I simply cannot do it anymore. Although I do plan to revitalize Accessing Oregon when I can retire form my current job and dedicate all of my time to serving people in my leisure days. Until then I would like you to focus your support on another worthy cause.

I recently met Todd Logan, who has set up his own highly effective and dynamic nonprofit to serve both civilians and serviceman in Oregon (Adaptive Excursions). He did what I could not, which was setup his board with the correctly positioned people, he gained the support of the specifically correct donors, and he has been able to meld his professional craft (guide and outdoorsman) with his nonprofit. Todd donates an incredible amount of time, money, and physical expense to others with no thoughts of personal recognition.

Now I want to be careful here and not give the wrong impression, which would be that I am not grateful for the quality people who have been involved and the support that I received from everyone. What I pointed out with Todd, is that he setup his board with people who were already in positions to financially and professionally support him. I set my board up with friends and loved ones, who are all very competent and quality people, but simply didn’t have the same resources as more successful non-profits. The second place where Todd has succeeded where I did not would be the vendors he was able to convince to get on board. I had R & J mobility, Weatherford Thompson Attorneys, and countless others who significantly donated to parts of our mission. Due to my inexperience as a nonprofit director, I just couldn’t utilize the support to get the business moving the way I had envisioned. Todd had a more concrete vision and asked Willie Boats to create a one of a kind incredible aluminum boat that I personally have been able to utilize for several successful river floats.

Todd’s utilized his own strengths, and gathered resources to address specific and necessary setup aspects of his venture. I simply was not able to do this, and really the majority of nonprofits out there face the same ending point as AO. This is where I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart, and to say please accept my apology for not being able to continue even after you have supported Accessing Oregon so much.

Thanks to the moral support you have all given me I decided to go back to school and become a counselor to dedicate my professional life to helping people with disabilities in Oregon. I also plan to continue developing professionally and to provide more resources for the people I aim to serve by becoming a Licensed Practicing Counselor (LPC). This is an area where I hope to continue to work in the nonprofit world by donating my time and professional skills to Todd and his nonprofit. You haven’t seen the last of me yet.

Last I would like to say that Accessing Oregon will not be completely gone as I will continue to maintain the page, I would like to be a resource for anyone who has questions, or simply needs some assistance finding resources for themselves or a family member. I would also like to hear your feedback, and if you feel that I have misused or incorrectly used your funding I will own up to what has happened. I am a man of integrity and I can accept when I have failed at something, and I have in this case.

Special thanks go out to Dan Hartman (his wife, daughter, mom, and dad) who helped me to setup the initial documents and business with the Secretary of State. Thank you to my dear wife who has dealt with a hunting crazed, overbearing, and demanding husband, I don’t deserve you. Thanks to each and every one of you who have donated, even as little as $5, we couldn’t have done anything without you. Thanks to R & J Mobility, specifically Jody Rowland and her family who so generously helped us all along the way. Thanks to Blake at Weatherford Thompson Attorneys who helped us for no charge and who even came to our fundraisers. Thanks to Ruby, former owner of Pizza King for hosting us and so generously donating to our recipients. Thanks to Chris and Dave Rogers (and his outstanding family) for building an accessible duck blind for people who use wheelchairs to hunt. Thanks to the Albany Rifle and Pistol Club. Thanks to Scott and his wonderful wife at KRKT. Last and not least, thanks to my family, my parents especially for always donating and being a part of our endeavors. Please do not feel snubbed if I didn’t name you specifically, as this letter would never end if I did name every person who is dear to me due to this project.

Thank you all named, and unnamed for your support, care, and time. It means the world to me and everyone who could use a hand up when they were down.

My most sincere love and gratitude to you all as well and I thank God for the blessings that have come to me dressed up as tragedy. I would have nothing if I did not have my journey here.

06/07/2017

About 2 months ago a guy I met at Regal Cinemas, named Gerritt, text me and asked if I wanted to go shooting with him. I said, "of course", and we set up a date. Like so many plans I make, something came up and we had to cancel. Days later he text me and said that a buddy of his had an adaptable boat and that he wanted to take both Gerritt and I fishing. Inside I was a little wary, but the insane part of my brain that has control over my executive functioning said, “what the hell, sure.”.
To give you a little perspective here, when most people say that they have a buddy with an accessible boat, I let my past experience rule out and I think, “yeah, sure, and I have a million bucks.” Not because I don’t believe my friend, or the good intentions of his buddy, but because I’ve heard this line about a thousand times.
By no fault of their own, most people think that something is accessible either because they, or someone that they perceive as qualified, have modified something for a family member or friend with some kind of disability. Because it worked for that one person they assume, with the absolute best of intentions that it should work for any person with a disability. When Gerritt told me this I had to debate, is this legit, or am I taking my life and putting into some stranger’s hands.
When you live in a wheelchair you come to realize very quickly how important it is to protect that chair. Jumping into just any guys boat, who claims he is a river guide, can literally put your entire livelihood at risk. If I lost my chair, I wouldn’t even be able to get about my house. I would be locked into my recliner or a couch until I could get a backup or some old busted chair that would fit in my Jeep.
I showed up yesterday morning to the pleasant hill boat ramp in Sweet Home to meet Gerritt, and Todd Logan the owner operator of Adaptive eXcursions. He had an 18 foot drift boat in tow on an aluminum trailer of his white pickup. The boat had a white stick wheelchair man sitting in a blue background that is identifiable by all people who use the front parking at any public building. It covered the entirety of the back portion of the boat, which upon closer inspection was a foldout ramp.
I said my hello out the window to both Todd and Gerritt who were both wearing the appropriate clothing for the 41 degree 620 AM morning. The sun was coming up, and both guys were toting smiles as they talked. I parked on the “accessible concrete fishing landing”, next to a guy sitting on a bench with a line in the calm water next to the extremely steep launching area.
First thing I noticed as I made my way uphill toward they guys was that Todd was the size of a grizzly bear. He was in and out of the boat, and up and down in the back of his pickup. He grabbed a motor off a specially made motor stand in the back of his rig. He hauled it around like it was a bag full of clothes. I know how much those motors weigh, and I’ll say that I was impressed.
He hopped down off of the bed of the truck and attached the motor to the boat’s accessible ramp. At first I wondered why he did this because obviously Gerritt and I were not in the boat yet. Todd explained that due to the angle of the ramp and his ability to move around, it would be much easier to take everything down in one run and take the motor off and on while at the ramp. That’s when I noticed that Todd had a prosthetic leg.
Todd noticed something too, which was that I didn’t have a coat. In my haste to get to the boat launch I took the garbage cans down to the corner, and forgot to grab the essentials. He literally took his sweatshirt that he was wearing off and handed it to me. He donned his old fish soaked sweatshirt from his rig for himself.
The other person who saw Todd’s leg was the guy sitting in the “accessible fishing” spot, who yelled, “Hey man I got a leg like that too.” Todd was very polite, and said “cool man, have a great day.” I got the feeling that Todd is the type of guy who appreciates a face to face and a look in the eye, more than a yell about what part of his body someone wants to comment on. It was obvious to me that Todd had other things to do and fish to target, so he wasted no time in getting to the boat.
Before launch Todd went over the safety rundown, gave us the option of tying down our chairs, and stated that we were grown men and could decide for ourselves to wear our life jackets or not. I have an immense amount of respect for this as sometimes volunteers will act as if you have brittle bones because of the chair and take so much precaution that the fun part of the trip is over before it starts. I want to take a second here to say that I believe that Todd’s professionalism, and safety is second to none. This is coming from a guy who has hired many guides, worked with many different outfits, and has tagged along on countless trips on other people’s boats.
The simple respect Todd had for me and Gerritt meant more me than the title to his custom Willie’s drift boat. While on this subject, Todd worked with the owners of Willie’s boats to create from scratch a drift boat with a raised deck, lower gunnels, a drop ramp, tie downs, and a modified hull for the comfort of people who have severe back injuries. This is an enormous stride forward for this company to dedicate time, resources, research and development, and then sell it to a man to take people with accessibility limitations fishing. Not only did they spend their own dime creating this boat, but Todd also spent his to buy the boat for the sakes of total strangers. If this generosity doesn’t inspire you to bring your business and your respect to both Todd (who is a river and hunting guide) and Willie’s boats as a fisherman, or simply as people, then nothing will.
We set off and quickly got moving, but more importantly joking. Right off the bat we were giving each other hell about one thing or another, and I knew that this was going to be a very special day. I got to know Gerritt, and Todd much better in the span of 8 hours than I get to know some people after knowing them for years.
We caught some native cutthroats, which we quickly released as not to harm them. We talked about every topic that 3 newly acquainted men with very different stories possibly could. Our stories shared information about who we are as individuals, what aspirations we have, and what challenges we are facing. We talked about how our wives are often unappreciated for how much they do for us, and the respect they give us as well as what it means to have their love. There was much more said in the boat, but we made a pact that what is said in the boat stays in the boat. As for that, if you are curious, you should hire Todd as your fishing guide, and get to know him for yourself.
Garritt shared about his life and his struggles, and Todd and I did the same, and at no point did any of us feel sorry for ourselves or each other. We were able to talk straight, and vent about our frustrations. What I took away from this experience more than anything else is what it means to have a brotherhood with other men. These guys invited me into this group with no thoughts of themselves, but just reaching out a hand to a guy who needed a day on the river.
People who share selflessly of themselves often become a meme on Facebook, and most people go home to tell their families about that meme, only to forget about it while Todd and Gerritt are cleaning up a boat and covering the gas bill to get back home. These guys deserve real respect, and deserve recognition. They inspired me through their actions, not through their disability.

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Albany, OR
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