By Jason KUROSU
Two weeks ago, Networkeronwheels.com launched, a networking website for businesses and nonprofits and the brainchild of Montrose resident Jerry O’ Brien. The site offers free thumbnail advertising to “businesses and nonprofits that give back, uplift and inspire their community,” according to O’Brien and features a number of organizations that advocate for the disabled. Networkeronwheels.com currently advertises for over 60 businesses and nonprofits through thumbnails featuring the various organizations’ logos and links to their websites.
O’Brien said he hopes the website will “help build up the community and bring awareness to those companies that are forward thinkers and nonprofits that are effective motivators together changing our world.”
The website is only in its initial phase and future additions will include a news ticker displaying a variety of businesses and nonprofit organizations, as well as a map which will allow users to locate the website’s featured organizations.
O’Brien is thankful to a number of people who helped him build the site such as photographers Deeno DeSantiago and John Free, as well as the businesses and nonprofits which advertise on his site, most of which he did not have to pursue himself.
“People can see the promise in what this site is doing,” said O’Brien. “I believe it can compete with the big guys. I believe it can be as big as Twitter or Facebook.”
But O’Brien also hopes the website will serve another purpose, bringing light to issues within the disabled community. After suffering a lower back injury in 2001 which put him through six surgeries and left him limited to the use of a wheelchair and a walker, O’Brien began focusing on advocacy for the disabled, which is reflected through his participation as advisor for the Ms. Wheelchair California Organization, work on advisory committees to improve ADA accessibility at Glendale Community College and the nonprofits featured on his website.
“The general public does not seem to know about disabled people becoming more active,” said O’Brien. “We need to change how people view this.”
O’Brien is hopeful that the site can garner some celebrity endorsements and increase public awareness of an often overshadowed community.
“Some people ask me if the website is just for disabled people,” said O’Brien. “I believe the abled and the disabled can be united for community change. One cannot be without the other.”