Local Program Lends A Hand Up, Not A Hand Out To The Community

By Libby Hopkins

YES! of America United, Inc. is on a mission. This program wants to positively change what is means to have a disability by offering programs and opportunities that will enrich, educate and empower people with disabilities and their families.

“Our purpose, mission and values all follow the simple rule of giving a hand up, not a hand out,” said the founder of the program, Becki Forsell. “It’s the best way to encourage a person with disabilities to become more active and engage with society as a whole.” The program offers advocacy classes, public speaking seminars, art workshops, and volunteering courses to name a few.

Community outreach and community involvement are very important to the program as well. In 2008 the program started The Family Abilities Information Rally (F.A.I.R). YES! organized, planned and promoted the first F.A.I.R. in response to the successful passage of the Disability History and Awareness Bill that the program had advocated for that same year.

That is how Gene King of Brandon became involved with YES! He was a police officer for the Tampa Police Department and Forsell came to speak about YES! and The F.A.I.R. at a community event. He is currently on the Board of Directors for YES! as its Community Advocate.

King would like to see the Brandon community get more involved with the program and see it help more people with disabilities, not only in Brandon, but in the surrounding communities. “I would like to seek more opportunities for fundraising for YES! from the Brandon area,” King said, “I would also like to have more opportunities for those with disabilities to have the ability to come out and enjoy their lives.”

The program will be holding its next F.A.I.R. in October, and they are hoping to break a record by hosting the world’s biggest Cha Cha Slide during this year’s event. “We’ve built this organization, and now it’s up to the community to get involved and help us grow,” Forsell said.

For more information on the programs offered by YES! of America United, Inc. or if you would like to be a vendor at their upcoming F.A.I.R., you can visit them at www.yesunited.org or contact Forsell at 935-5696.