LOS ANGELES (PRWEB) October 14, 2018
Angelenos gather in a unique way to celebrate National Disability Awareness Month. This Sunday at the East Los Angeles Civic Center a red carpet will be rolled out at 11am to begin the annual Wheelchair Wash Festival. For 15 years running straight, a yearly family tradition that started with 20 people receiving a wheelchair cleaning has grown to hundreds representing various cultures and disabilities. A day to celebrate abilities in action and family unity is free for the whole community! The event kicks off with Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard sharing a message of hope and recognizing Barbara Arenza who has been selected to receive the Abilities in Action Advocate Award.
Barbara was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1997 when she was a young mother of 4 children. Barbara was born and raised in El Sereno, California and prior to her diagnosis worked for the City of Los Angeles Police Department as a records manager for almost 20 years. Since then, Barbara has had to learn to adjust to a new lifestyle that hindered her ability to walk by affecting her upper and lower mobility. Barbara said that her electric wheelchair has taken her to many fun and interesting places, she thought this change would be difficult, but soon realized there are many nice people around when you are smiling at strangers as they soon can become a new friend. Barbara finds strength through her spiritual connection and where she says she finds inner peace and the courage to not feel like a victim but rather victorious. The mother instinct inside her made her stronger than ever alongside a new support system she found at Familia Unida Living with MS, “Familia Unida” where she has been a member for over 20 years, “we first shared laughs and tears and now here we are, building more friendships and communities,” says Barbara.
Initially, Barbara attended Familia Unida as a participant with her small children attending monthly the support group meetings. Her role then grew to a peer advocate, translator, involvement in the food pantry distribution, raising awareness through civic engagement alongside Familia Unida through roundtable meetings and hearings with elected officials to address disparities in healthcare, human rights and most recently, bringing awareness to the importance of having more people living with a disability showcased in film as a Familia Unida Advocate Ambassador. With her children grown and now a proud grandmother of four, Barbara attends weekly physical exercise classes at the California State University Los Angeles Mobility Center to improve her balance, optimize her mobility, socialize and most importantly to get energized to continue with making herself available for others who many need someone to listen or simply share a hug.
“When we open our heart to a stranger a new feeling of hope is planted, sadness turns to smiles and loneliness is replaced by love. Any day is a great day to showcase our abilities in action for more inclusion and unity as witnessed and felt at the Familia Unida Wheelchair Wash and Wellness Fair,” said Irma Resendez, founder-executive director of Familia Unida.
Barbara expressed she was shocked and pleasantly surprised for the honor of being selected to receive the “Abilities in Action Advocate” recognition. Barbara says, “I’m just an average person who finds happiness being kind. “We all deserve to be loved... even a stranger can change a person's attitude with a smile”.
About Familia Unida
Incorporated as a grass roots 501-c3 nonprofit in 1998 as the first MS organization in the United States to outreach to the Spanish speaking community, has since expanded to include all those living with a disability. Today Familia unida serves over 15,000 individuals representing a rainbow of cultures, disabilities and especially immigrants who are in need of assistance to be included in the economic growth of their community and who deserved to be counted.
To learn more visit: http://www.lovefamiliaunida.org 323-418-2667