A listener and a voice for disabled children
Meet Noah Wilson. A second-grader at Boeckman Creek Primary, Noah loves to listen to music, watch cartoons, play in the water and hang out with his dog, cat and older sister, Grace. Like any 7-year-old, Noah is learning to navigate the world around him and to live his best life. But unlike many of his classmates at Boeckman Creek, Noah was born with a host of mental and physical disabilities.
White matter is a part of the central nervous system that constitutes much of the brain and plays a critical role in mental and physical development. Noah's neurologist believes that his disabilities stem from him having low levels of white matter. But Noah's disabilities haven't stopped him from loving and inspiring others — including his parents, who are in the process of creating the nonprofit From Noah With Love.
"Noah is a fun-loving boy, just like anybody else," Bill Wilson, Noah's father, says. "He's very well-accepted in his classroom and in his school and the community. We hope that through the nonprofit that we can really help families out in many ways and to get that confidence to go out into the community and not feel bad about reaching out when they need help."
Wilson says that the nonprofit will aim at assisting those who live with mental and/or physical disabilities and their families.
"We want to be a listener and then a voice for these families," Wilson says. "We know the challenges that come along with it in many areas and we're looking to help these people and connect them with the many resources that are out there."
From conception to adulthood, families pour countless hours of support and care into giving their children bright, happy and hopeful futures. For the families of children with mental or physical disabilities, Wilson says that the outpouring required to meet their children's needs can be daunting and additional help and resources are often greatly appreciated.
To help meet this need and connect with the community, Wilson says that the nonprofit will advocate for everything from disability-friendly playground equipment to solutions for individual needs.
"A lot of times, families don't feel like they can go places because of how people will look at their child," Wilson says. "We want to try and bridge that as well."
Although still in the registration process to became an official 501(c)(3), Noah and his fledgling nonprofit are already garnering support in the community.
"Noah's a great kid," says Kelley Culp, assistant coach of Wilsonville robotics First Tech Challenge (FTC) team Uranium 235 and Boeckman Creek teacher.
After working with Noah at Boeckman Creek and learning more about him from his parents — who are also on the teaching staff at Boeckman — Culp and Uranium 235 were inspired to use their robotics skills to help give Noah an epic Halloween by buying and customizing a ride-in electric car for Halloween.
"We're tricking it out and making it into a police vehicle," Culp says.
The team raised money to buy the $400 child-sized electric car equipped with remote controls by running a car wash at Jay Puppo's State Farm Insurance office's parking lot in Wilsonville.
Culp says that part of being a FTC team is doing outreach in the community and that fundraising for Noah was a treat that they want to continue.
"It was a nice way for the kids to connect because it's not just some abstract charity," Culp said. "We're raising more money even though we met our goals for the police vehicle, because he has a nonprofit.
"So all of the additional money that we've raised is going to that to help other kids and their families."
Thus far, between the car wash and a custom-built birdhouse sale hosted by Al's Garden & Home, Uranium 235 has raised more than $800.
Wilson hopes that as From Noah With Love completes its registration process to become a 501(c)(3), more partnerships like the one with Uranium 235 will emerge.
"We're always looking for volunteers to really help get this going," Wilson says. "Our short-term goal is to stay extremely local and put the word out about who we are and that if you need assistance, here's how you get in touch with us."
Wilson says that the next step will be forming a board of directors and body of volunteers. Once this structure is established, Wilson says that the nonprofit will begin finding families and providing support.
"Resources tend to lose track of families, but once we — for lack of a better term — adopt a family or an individual, we want to be there for them through life and we don't ever want to drop off anyone," Wilson says. "If they're going through a hard time and they don't know what to do or how to get something that they need for their child, or maybe it's a school that needs something to help, we want to advocate for those needs and fundraise for that. We want to get that going so that that individual can have a happy life, just like everybody else."