At a time when most people slow down to enjoy their “golden years,” Phil Atkinson has dedicated his time to helping people with disabilities providing him with energy seldom seen in those 30 years younger. AARP South Carolina is pleased to recognize him as the recipient of the 2011 Andrus Award for Community Service.
See Also: Award Named for AARP Founder
After retiring from a 42-year career in 1989 as an engineer and program manager at Westinghouse’s Defense and Electronics Center in Baltimore and moved to Saluda, SC. In 2001, formed Enabling Technology Associates – EnableTech, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing independence to those with disabilities through the design and application of innovative assistance technology.
EnableTech’s goal is to provide people with disabilities with assistive devices that will allow them to maintain as high a level of independence as possible. With EnableTech’s aid, many of his clients are able to remain independent and in their own homes.
In South Carolina, Atkinson has put together a diverse network of volunteers including scientists, engineers, and fabricators that design and provide free of charge, specialized assistive technology to allow persons with disabilities to achieve as much independence as possible and improve their quality of life. Additional volunteers come from businesses and industries, universities, medical organizations, human service agencies and the retirement community.
Since 2001, EnableTech has responded to over 127 requests for help, ranging from those as simple as identifying a suitable commercial device and modifying it to meet the needs of the individual, to those of much greater complexity. Typical complex challenges involving custom designs have included an elevator for home installation, a crib to provide a mother in a wheelchair safe access to her baby, and a vehicle that allowed a quadriplegic to continue to train dogs to heard sheep and cattle.
EnableTech provides its service free of charge and is supported by grants, donations of money and materials, and for the most Atkinson himself. He is a master at recycling and is always on the lookout for things and volunteers that might be useful for projects.