This November the Colorado AgrAbility Project (CAP) had the opportunity to join Colorado State Universities Alpha Gama Rho Fraternity in a service-connected project with a CAP client, Vijay Viswanathaan. In 2003 Vijay was injured in a rock-climbing accident where he incurred a T5 spinal cord injury resulting in paraplegia. Being paralyzed from the waist down has made his dream of entering farming difficult.
AgrAbility conducted an on-site assessment of his farm/ranch infrastructure and necessary work tasks then made recommendations on the services, adaptations, modification, equipment, and providers that could assist to facilitate Vijay’s ability to begin his agricultural goals. When he obtained his property, it was peppered with different types of construction and agricultural debris which is next to impossible for him to gather, sort and arrange, so that the property presents much better and is safer for him to traverse using his manual wheelchair. It was also unsafe for the introduction of livestock. As he is on a limited income and relies on the help from friends and volunteers to assist with physical tasks, he requested AgrAbility’ s aid in securing volunteers to perform tasks such as cutting, splitting, and stacking wood for this upcoming winter. In addition, he had plans to turn a small outbuilding currently in a state of disrepair into a fully functioning chicken coop. Having help from a few able body folks who could organize and provide the manpower to secure this building would be a real game changer for Vijay. And who better to help mend and repair several fences to aid in livestock and property security than the young men from AGR, who have both experience and skills to help this beginning farmer.
Alpha Gamma Rho is a fraternity sharing a common bond within a dynamic, global agricultural community to foster the highest values and providing every brother with superior lifelong personal development and professional success. They are dedicated to “service” and Anthony Nomina, Philanthropy Chair was eager to agree to assist AgrAbility and Vijay by provided 18 brothers and himself to help with this day long task of cleanup and repair on November 14th, 2021.
Vijay Visvanatha was extremely grateful for the assistance and addressed the AGR group sharing his appreciation stating, “If you or someone you know have a disability, AgrAbility is a very special program that I strongly recommend and I encourage you to contact them for their services. It could change your way of life.” He continued to share that “They are experienced in the field and have many great ideas on ways to make things easier or possible. And the most valuable—they are always there to lend an ear whether you need advice or simply encouragement.”
Colorado AgrAbility is part of a national program designed to help farmers, ranchers and their family members remain in agriculture when facing limitations due to aging, disease, injury, illness, or other disability. AgrAbility specialists analyze each situation and recommend practical solutions to restructure work tasks, modify agricultural operations, coordinate community, and state resources, and customize a plan to meet individual and family needs for farmers or ranchers.
The project is a USDA funded program that partners Colorado State University, Colorado State Extension, and Goodwill of Colorado Since 1998 Colorado AgrAbility has helped over 612 farm and ranch clients.