BOH Grant Enables Wheelchair Accessibility for ASCC-SBDC

1/30/2006

ASCC Press Release Caption:On behalf of the Bank of Hawaii Charitable Foundation, District Manager Brian Glass (left) presents a grant award of $10,000 to Herbert Thweatt, State Director of the American Samoa Small Business Development Center. The award will enable the AS-SBDC to make their facilities wheelchair accessible. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

In several months time, the American Samoa Small Business Development Center (AS-SBDC) at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) will include a new reception area, an additional classroom/meeting area, and wheelchair accessibility, all thanks to a recent grant award of $10,000 by the Bank of Hawaii (BOH) Charitable Foundation. Last week, BOH District Manager Brian Glass visited the AS-SBDC headquarters on the ASCC campus to present the award. “In addition to expanding our public areas, this award will enable us to make our facilities available to clients in wheelchairs, which will open up a while new dimension of service for us,” said AS-SBDC State Director Herbert Thweatt.

AS-SBDC currently occupies a building originally constructed by the Mormon Church more than 40 years ago, during the era when the structures now occupied by ASCC served as the Church’s high school. Originally designed as a home, the AS-SBDC headquarters now includes office space for Thweatt and his team of counselors, as well as a large classroom which doubles as a computer lab available for use by the Center’s clients and ASCC students. A previous grant award from BOH gave the Center a chance to make the first phase of improvements needed to make the building accessible to clients in wheelchairs, but a second phase of work remains necessary before these individuals have full access to the AS-SBDC headquarters. “During the first phase, we constructed wheelchair-accessible restroom facilities,” said Thweatt. “Thanks to this contribution from the Bank of Hawaii, now we can work on making the entrance to the building and movement within it accessible as well.”

Making their facility accessible to the handicapped will make it possible for AS-SBDC to participate in a proposed long-range project in collaboration with the Department of Social Services. As Thweatt explained, “Social Services has received federal funding to assist the underprivileged and the handicapped in starting their own small businesses. AS-SBDC will provide the training to these individuals, once they have full access to our building. Working in tandem with Social Services, we hope to help underprivileged and handicapped individuals launch their own businesses at a rate of ten per year, for three years.” With work on the building scheduled to begin shortly, Thweatt hopes to have the necessary renovations completed within the next few months.

“With this exciting new project on the horizon, we thank Bank of Hawaii for their genuine concern for the welfare of our community,” said Thweatt. “Their contribution will make it possible for individuals who previously had insurmountable odds against entering the business market to enjoy the same opportunities as everyone else.” The Bank of Hawaii Charitable Foundation provides contributions to non-profit organizations with an emphasis on education, health care, community development, human services, and culture and the arts.

In addition to Director Herbert Thweatt, the AS-SBDC staff consists of counselors June Paogofie and Livingston Nuusila, along with administrative assistant Loretta Talolo. Individuals seeking advice or information on starting a small business can give the Center a call at 699-4830, or visit their web site at: www.as-sbdc.org

www.amsamoa.edu/news/Jan/boh_sbdcgrant.htm

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