There are times when things seem so obvious and simple that it’s hard to believe nobody has done it. Maybe an idea was there but there needs to be determination and follow-thru to make things happen. West Livaudais lacks none of those qualities and is making things happen in Portland, OR!
Prior to his injury in November 2013, West was living in Coban, Guatemala and working for Medical Teams International as the maternal and child health program coordinator. It was through his work with Mayan mothers in rural communities that he learned how to utilize the dynamics of community engagement and leverage strengths to promote health.
In Guatemala West was hit by a truck, injured his hip and promptly returned home to Portland, Oregon to get surgery. It was then that an infection and abscess pinched his spinal cord and paralyzed him. As he struggled to make sense of all that had happened he looked for support groups but didn’t find something that met his needs. West met another person with SCI in rehab and they decided to meet up at a local bar one night. The result of this interaction is not surprising- he found relief, comfort and support. They decided to repeat the next month and invite a few others. The first few months attendance was low but consistent and through word of mouth and a Facebook presence the group has grown exponentially.
In just one year West has created Oregon SCI Connection, a space that provides support, social interaction and camaraderie for the Oregon spinal cord injury community. The group, Oregon Spinal Cord Injury Connection, their social meetup-“Wheel Connect”, and the SCI/D Forum (covering topics/issues related to SCI) are for all those affected by spinal cord injury, new and veteran alike. Using his past skills and experiences with what he is currently learning as a masters student in Public Health West feels like the old West is finally ‘coming back’. He says, “Old mechanisms are manifesting in a new way and how can I have foreseen this happening?! I am proud and surprised that I have been the one to initiate something like this but I am excited to use my skills to help people and really fulfilled that I can play this role.”
The concept is simple and fun- getting people with SCI together once a month at a local venue to socialize and find support by building a strong network and community! BACKBONES is behind that 100%!
Every city needs a West Livaudais!
More on a great guy!
Injury Level: C7
Siblings: 3 sisters. I am a twin.
Current Residence: Portland, OR
Accomplishment you are proud of? The work I am doing with Oregon SCI Connection
Favorite music: haha! I listen to crappy pop music, different playlists on Spotify and NPR
Favorite films: I watch a lot of documentaries but also really like Crash and Inception
Last vacation: I went to the Oregon coast with my girlfriend. I asked her to marry me. She said yes. (Congratulations West)
Do you have pets? I actually just got a service dog named Reggie. We are still getting to know each other.
Do you play any sports? I feel like things are getting back to normal now and I am starting to explore rugby and basketball. My goal is to get more active.
What takes up a majority of your time? Oregon SCI Connect and applying for 501c3 non-profit status. I want to shape this organization as a health organization with measurable outcomes showing that social networks are improving health outcomes and quality of life.
Short term goals: Get fit and active! I want to try kayaking and monoskiing.
Long term goal: To find stability- vision, mission, a strategic plan, funding- for Oregon SCI Connection. I don’t feel like I have bitten more than I can chew!
Anything else? Well, I value support from people. And, watching people continue to live and have a life after something like this happens, I value that. When I leave this earth I want something to show for it and I think I can do that by creating this infrastructure I hope to help people beyond my time.