Writer-s-Bloc

Lemon or lemonade?

By Peter Enns

The Stats Canada number can be discouraging: 13.7 per cent of Canadians have a physical or mental disability that interferes with their daily activities.

However, the expression says, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I would like to honour one Kelowna resident who made lemonade out of his lemons.

His name is Mike Haines and he has cerebral palsy. His speech is hard to understand and he is confined to a wheelchair.

However, he is one friendly, happy dude. He likes to go to the mall and strike up conversations with strangers. He told me he likes himself.

When he moved to Kelowna with his parents in 1981, he decided he was not going to be dependent upon government handouts. So, after the Lions Club gave him a three-wheel bike, he decided to start a courier business.

He began delivering documents from one downtown business to another for $3/envelope. He was downtown 8-10 hours a day, 7 days a week.

One day, a stereo shop asked if he would put their advertising sign on his bike. He began charging $30 a month to advertise on his bike.

After his bike wore out, he got an electric scooter. This allowed him to have more signs. At any one time, he had 35-40 signs making money for him.

Mike and his signs were a fixture in downtown Kelowna for 25 years. (As a point of interest, one of his YouTube videos can be found by going to bit.ly/KelownaFixture.)

One of Mike’s passions is getting the public to treat people with disabilities better. He has given a number of talks to various restaurant staff, teaching them how to treat customers with disabilities.

One restaurant manager said that Mike brought some of the staff members to tears.

A year or two ago, he began creating an ebook about how to treat customers with disabilities. Earlier this year, he teamed up with a writer and a nurse to finish the ebook. It took  three months, but it was worth it.

The book, How to Serve Customers with Disabilities, is an amazing teaching manual that some local businesses are beginning to buy.

Today Mike is still an entrepreneur. This time, he is selling his ebook.

To see a three-minute YouTube video of Mike’s entrepreneurial history, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK591TqnNUg

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Welcome to Writer’s Bloc, an opinion column for guest writers to share their experiences and viewpoints with our readers.

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