Don Ostrus was board president of Abilities United & inspired in his work.

Don Ostrus is 92 years young and has seen a lot in his time, so it means a little extra when this long-time supporter says “my involvement with what is now Abilities United was one of the highlights of my life.”

Don’s involvement with people with disabilities did not come naturally. “I had a cousin who was severely disabled, and he scared me,” says Don. “Then years later I befriended a child with a disability, and I found that he was such a sweet kid. In the 1980s I became involved with what is now Abilities United, and I served on the board for a number of years. When I became president of the board I was totally immersed.”

Things have changed a lot since then, and in a very positive way. “Back then those with disabilities were shunned; you’d never see a person with a disability working in the community,” says Don, “but now they are accepted. Today I see people with disabilities working in the community; they are great employees and they have such a sense of pride and self-worth with their jobs. It’s been a real inspiration to see this happen.”
Don sees that a key reason for the very positive progress through the years has been the work of organizations such as Abilities United. “There have been so many top-notch people who have given their time and their talents,” says Don. “Lynda Steele of Abilities United is one of the best executive directors around; she has a lot of empathy and a lot of business sense.”
“People with disabilities are an important part of our community,” says Don, “and it is organizations like Abilities United that make it possible.”
Based on a 2013 interview. Written by Bob Thomas. Edited by Don Ostrus and Wendy Kuehnl.