Service before Self.
A valued Tetra volunteer, David Spears applies his mechanical engineering expertise to remove barriers for people with disabilities by creating adaptive technologies that improve their independence.
He’s been a volunteer with Tetra since 2016, and right from the beginning he has been an integral part of the society. David is an exceptional problem solver, always open to hearing other suggestions and looking for unique ways to solve people’s challenges.
David put it best when he said “my entire nature is to make stuff function.”
He joked about how he is often called to a house to fix one particular plight that someone is facing and ends up finding, and taking on, many more projects to further advance an individual’s access and mobility.
He described this, stating, “typically I’ll go into a home and [people with disabilities] don’t realize the scope of what is available… They don’t realize there are other things that can be done.”
Spears laughed proclaiming “I can’t help it, every time a wheelchair goes by, I’m studying it wondering [if] it has lights and where they put a bottle holder [or] a cell phone… I can name six things that I could put on anybody’s wheelchair.”
The project that was most challenging but fulfilling to Spears was building a kayak dolly/trailer for BCMOS’ Paddling Centre in False Creek. It enables coop students’ employees to pull a person with a disability in a double kayak out of the water on rollers. The trailer had to fit different kayaks and allow a hoist to fit under it to lift paddlers in and out of the kayak. Watch the video.
Spears confided that volunteering with Tetra has not only helped other people, but it has left a lasting impact on him as well, stating “[t]he endorphins [I] get from changing the lives of people with disabilities, sometimes radically, are worth the effort. Consequently, [us volunteers] build close relationships with our clients.” The Disability Foundation and Tetra are fortunate to have David Spears as a volunteer and express sincere gratitude for his actions in enhancing the lives of people with disabilities. His thoughtful designs and ability to construct viable solutions is truly the definition of how he helped reimagine what’s possible.
Some of his projects include a team effort in designing a ramp for a play-school in Surrey and helping design a transfer bench for our BCMOS Paddling Program. His current project is constructing two accessible cribs for new parents. When asked which client motivated and inspired him the most, he promptly shared this story: “A lady who was an avid cyclist got an autoimmune disease such that she could no longer cycle and became wheelchair bound. Eventually her shoulders hurt too much to even wheel her chair. She tried wheeling backwards and rode into a ditch so she didn’t go out again. I converted her 21-speed bike into a trike that she could ride in lower gears. When I completed it, I ran beside her for a kilometre on the seawall and she was in tears after finally getting freedom.” And for that, we thank you.
For more information about volunteering, please contact Sheryl Newman, Volunteer Management Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (778) 945-8823.