Be Extraordinary, a non-profit organization piloted in part by the president of Invotek in Alma, recently received the Noble Cause Award for the services it provides to people with severe physical disabilities.
Be Extraordinary (Be-X) provides physically disabled people the opportunity to achieve their life goals, whether it is to complete high school, get a job, contact old friends through Facebook or email their family.
It received the Noble Cause Award in 2013 because of the way those working in the organization reach out to clients on a personal level and determine exactly what needs to be done to meet that person’s needs. The purpose of the award is to make the community more aware of those efforts, said Tom Jakobs, president of Invotek.
Invotek is a company in Alma with staff focused on helping those with limited movement be able to access computers, have more control over their environment and communicate more effectively. The company has received several awards and millions of dollars in grants for its projects.
"What’s unique about the Noble Cause Award, it’s an effort by Philip Merry and the NCA team to go through and make people more aware of programs that are making a difference in the community," Jakobs said.
Getting the word out about the organization to the community is difficult for Jakobs and his staff, because of money and time constraints, he said. Winning the award shows people his is a cause worth supporting, he said.
Be-X was started in 2010 by Jakobs, who worked in partnership with the Arkansas Spinal Cord Commission to create the program - a program that was able to help 82 percent of those served reach their goals.
Be-X grew into a charitable organization which currently serves about 24 people, mostly in Arkansas. Jakobs is currently waiting for the 501c3 non-profit status to be confirmed, he said.
Jakobs and his staff at Invotek collaborate with universities and other organizations to create multidisciplinary teams for all their research projects.
Teams also are put together to assist those in Be-X. They go into clients’ homes to help install equipment, and work one-on-one with them to determine which software and equipment best suits their needs.
Many clients are quadriplegics, typically because of major spinal cord injuries or a brainstem stroke or injury. Be-X creates a partnership with these individuals to help them live, grow and give after facing an incident that instantly changed their physical abilities for life.
Be-X also helps with clients’ costs - often not covered by insurance - and teaches them how to use the technology. Clients are then expected to give back by making the public aware of issues facing the disabled and of the Be-X organization itself, and by providing support to others with disabilities.
"Be-X and their noble cause are truly incredible," said Philip Merry, area president of Arthur J. Gallagher Co and leader of the NCA team, in a recent media release. "They are helping to unleash so many positive feelings and emotions for so many. The Noble Cause Award selection team is proud and honored to bring Be-X on board so that we can do all that we possibly can to help them ‘pay it forward.’"
Be-X is unique in the U.S. While it currently benefits those living in Arkansas or neighboring states, Jakobs and those working with the organization hope to expand to help those throughout the U.S.
"We’re definitely looking at being able to provide services to as many as possible," Jakobs said.