GEC launches crowdfunding plans to raise money for wheelchair accessible van

March 9, 2016 Ulrik Narcisse
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The Guild for Exceptional Children (GEC) recently announced a new crowdfunding plan to raise approximately $50,000 to purchase a new van to accommodate clients, particularly those who are older and disabled.

“We do have a fleet of vehicles, and it’s getting older,” said GEC CEO Paul Cassone. “The need for transportation is increasing, and our fleet of vehicles is decreasing, so we really do need to purchase one more.

“Our funding is strained and we really do not have the funding to do it ourselves,” he went on. “We were suggested that this might be a good way to get it going. We need to raise about $50,000. These vehicles are expensive, especially once you have to add a wheelchair lift to them.”

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But, such a vehicle is necessary in order to accommodate GEC clients, Cassone noted. “We serve children and we serve adults, and many of the adults that live in our residences are 50 and above,” added Cassone. “I have people in their sixties, seventies and eighties, and one person in their nineties.”

Cassone said that public bus transportation could be considered an acceptable option for some GEC clients, but stressed that traversing non-wheelchair accessible train stations is prohibitively difficult for others, besides the difficulty that traveling to and from bus stops or train stations might entail.

“Because of the mobility challenges, many of them do not have the ability to use the trains,” he said. “The buses are fairly accessible but they still have to climb the steps. It’s much easier and less draining on them if we bring them on a van to a place.”

The crowdfund is specifically aimed at raising funds for the new van, but Cassone says the organization is actively fundraising on a more general basis as well. GEC will hold an auction and raffle at Gargiulo’s, 2911 West 15th Street in Coney Island, over the weekend, and it just held its popular annual Beer Fest.

“We have been using a variety of methods,” Cassone said. “With social media being the phenomenon it is, we thought it might be a good way to do this.”

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