Skip to main content

Able Advocates of Fresno Aids Families with Special Needs Children

Dec 26, 2016 11:00AM, Published by Jordan Venema, Categories: Giving Back, In Print, Today



Gallery: Able Advocates of Fresno Aids Families with Special Needs Children [4 Images] Click any image to expand.



More Than Able

January 2017
By Jordan Venema
Photos: Brittany Wilbur

Parents know. Besides the obvious connection that a mother shares with her child, parents just know when something isn’t right.

When Katrina Oh’s son began showing signs of delayed development, she wasn’t being hypersensitive. Oh knew something was wrong. Her third child would later be diagnosed with agenesis of the corpus callosum, meaning the middle part of his brain was missing.

But on paper, under existing insurance codes, there was no way to classify his condition. So for the first two years, the Ohs paid out of pocket for equipment, treatment, even horse therapy.

“For about a year and a half, there was a period that we were making payments, doing what we could,” says Oh. “It took a toll on the whole family. It got to the point that we couldn’t afford it.”  

Ultimately, a cerebral palsy diagnosis allowed insurance to cover expenses, but through her experience, Oh realized that many other families were facing similar issues with insurance red tape. In 2011, Oh began a support group. 

“Anytime that I was in clinics, I ended up in waiting rooms and saw other distressed parents, and I reached out and finally decided to do a potluck at my house. So for about a year, I’d have a potluck with these ladies and we would just vent,” says Oh. “But it got to the point that we were having the same discussion every month about being denied services, denied equipment, and that’s when I decided to file for a nonprofit.”

In 2013, Able Advocates became an official 501(c)3 nonprofit that is unlike any other. It isn’t modeled off of an existing organization, but rather grew organically from parents’ experiences and children’s needs.

“It grew out of being a special needs parent,” Oh states simply. “There is nothing like us.”

Looking back, Oh never imagined that the first potluck, which included six families, would serve more than 1,000 families throughout California in the last year.

Think of Able Advocates like Google, a search engine for parents with special needs. As an aggregate of personal experiences and information, Able Advocates offers connections and resources to parents who find themselves in unknown territory.

“A lot of the time, when you’re newly diagnosed, you don’t know where to go, so we just make sure families get what they need,” explains Oh. “I don’t have a lot of red tape, so if the hospital calls me and they see a need, we’re there. We try to fill the gap. We want to make sure that those families are receiving services during that wait period.”

In addition to running support groups at various locations, hosting guest speakers and helping families get in touch with the services they need, Able Advocates offers the equipment closet.

“That’s pretty much my baby now,” says Oh. “For families that are waiting for authorizations through insurance, which literally can take a year, or for families that have been denied, we’re getting them the equipment and fitting them with a licensed physical therapist.”

According to Oh, an electric wheelchair can cost up to $30,000, so through donations and sponsorships, Able Advocates has gathered a collection of walkers, standers, wheelchairs and other equipment that can be “molded for the specific child.” Most equipment is donated, so much of the money raised by Able Advocates goes back to repurposing equipment for children in need.

So what keeps Oh going? “Passion,” she says firmly. “When you drop off a piece of equipment to a family, and you see the face of that child light up, that’s everything for me. Giving back is huge, and I couldn’t see another family go through the torture that I went through.”



Able Advocates


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    05/01/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Central Valley CWA meeting

    05/01/2017
    06:00PM

    California Women for Agriculture's (CWA) Central Valley Chapter will hold its next meeting on Mon...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    05/01/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • Hawaiian Hula (dance) classes

    05/02/2017
    02:00PM — 07:30PM

    During our Hula classes, we respect the traditions of Hula and do our best to research the langua...


  • Kino Hana, Cardio-Hula

    05/02/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    ALOOOOHA!!!! Ready to shake up your fitness routine? Ready to shape up and tone your amazing bo...


  • ARTS VISALIA May Exhibition

    05/04/2017
    12:00PM — 05:30PM

    Arts Visalia presents an exhibition of "giganteum" proportions. The giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron...


  • Arts Visalia Art Classes for Children and Adults

    05/04/2017
    12:00PM — 05:30PM

    Register now for new 4-week courses beginning in May: Adventures in Drawing for 5 & 6 year olds ...


  • 2017 Art Hop

    05/04/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    ArtHop occurs every 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month. It’s one of the most active and successfu...


  • The Fresno High Flea: Hello May

    05/06/2017
    10:00AM — 02:00PM

    Celebrate the End of our SUCCESSFUL 4th SEASON As always, Family friendly and Free to attend. ...


  • Mother Day, Ladies Luncheon

    05/06/2017
    11:30AM — 01:30PM

    Our annual Mothers Day Luncheon is open to all Women and young ladies (ages 9 and up). Open to al...


  • Premier Kentucky Derby Party

    05/06/2017
    12:00PM — 05:00PM

    Riata Ranch International is celebrating 60 years of their unique brand of empowerment! The Bo...


  • ARTS VISALIA Family Art Day

    05/06/2017
    12:00PM — 02:00PM

    Family Art Day is fun for the whole family. Discover the joy of artistic expression. Check out ...


  • ARTS VISALIA May Exhibition

    05/06/2017
    12:00PM — 05:30PM

    Arts Visalia presents an exhibition of "giganteum" proportions. The giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron...


  • Arts Visalia Art Classes for Children and Adults

    05/06/2017
    12:00PM — 05:30PM

    Register now for new 4-week courses beginning in May: Adventures in Drawing for 5 & 6 year olds ...


  • ARTS VISALIA Annual Orchid Sale

    05/06/2017
    12:00PM — 05:30PM

    Beginning May 6th, over 800 beautiful and colorful orchids will fill the gallery for our annual f...


  • Kentucky Derby Party

    05/06/2017
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    The Kentucky Derby is more than just a horse race, it's the event of the year! View the Kentucky ...


  • Pure Imagination

    05/06/2017
    02:00PM

    Enjoy an evening of ‘Pure Imagination’ at Visalia’s LJ Williams Theater. VCIS brings skilled l...


  • Since their debut in 2001, GRAMMY®-nominated, multiple American Music Award and Dove Award winner...


Check out our sister publication, Enjoy Magazine: Northern California Living