The basics: Art and Mary Olvera, both 43, operate Life Goes On-Home Improvement Inc., a Fresno nonprofit that modifies homes of the elderly and people with disabilities. Art is the CEO. Mary works full time as a legal secretary and helps with the nonprofit in her spare time.
What they do: Working with a contractor, the Olveras rely on donations and discounts from businesses to widen doorways, make shower modifications, and install ramps and grab bars. They started the nonprofit in May 2009. They have completed 10 projects and have five more in the works.
Why they do it: Art has been a quadriplegic since 1988 when he was injured as a passenger in a drunken-driving crash. He handled billing and payroll for a company until he was laid off in July. That allowed him to work full time on the nonprofit projects. "I needed some substance in my life," he said. "I guess it took me being pushed out of my job to get to this point."
The turning point: About six years ago, the Fresno couple lived in a condominium where they asked to have their parking stall assigned on the end of a row of vehicles so Art could enter their car more easily. The Olveras said they were told they had to pay for the cost of a disabled parking stall. "We go to concerts and baseball games where we always run into obstacles, but that was the kicker for me," he said. That inspired the Olveras to help others.
Details, details: The Olveras reach out to rehabilitation centers to identify people who are returning to their homes and in need of modifications. "Everybody says, 'How do you do it?' " Mary said. "I say, 'How do we not do it?' This is what lights my fire."
What others say: Bruce Whitsitt, who met the Olveras when he was teaching a class at Clovis Adult School on starting a nonprofit, said Art has used his experiences and struggles to help others. Whitsitt said the Olveras complement each other. "With him, there's this quiet determination," he said. "She's very vivacious and positive."
How you can help: Anyone wanting to donate can call the Olveras at (559) 313-4313 or visit their website at lgo-hi.com.
-- Eddie Jimenez