Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Elliot Zaretsky Recalls Start in Independent Living Industry and Three Decades at MaxiAids in Speech to Long Island Council of the Blind

As previously covered in this blog, Elliot Zaretsky, president and founder of MaxiAids, was recently recognized by the Long Island Council of the Blind (LICB) for his dedication to the community of blind and low vision individuals.

In receiving this honor, which was given during a presentation at the LICB's annual 'Dinner in the Dark' event, Mr. Zaretsky recalled how he got into the independent living industry and reflected on his three decades at MaxiAids. Below is a full text of his speech:

I am honored to receive this recognition from the American Council of the Blind on behalf of MaxiAids Products for Independent Living.

I have the greatest respect for the ACB and the important work you do. We have had a long, successful relationship and it is a pleasure for me to be here tonight.

I just have a few words I’d like to say…

When I look back over my life, there is one important time – and one decision I made – that brought me to this point standing before you today.

For many years I was a pharmacist and I operated a chain of pharmacies in Brooklyn and Queens. Luckily I was doing well and able to support my family. I was happy, so I had no reason to think I’d ever leave that business.

But then something unexpected happened that changed the course of my career, and my life. My wife Shirley and I are the proud parents of three children. And we learned that one of them – my son Harold – was deaf.

Of course, as a father I wanted the best for him. I was concerned about his future and his job prospects. So, I tried to find whatever information and products I could to help my son grow and thrive.

But as I searched, I found that there just weren’t many products available. And the few items I did find were very expensive.

So I started thinking that if I had trouble finding items - even though I worked in the healthcare industry, with all my training and contacts - then what chance do other parents have?

I wondered how many other people were out there - parents of deaf or hearing impaired, blind or visually impaired children... or children with physical or mental disabilities.

How many of those parents couldn’t find – or afford – products to help their children learn and succeed – just like we wanted for our son?

So with that in mind, in 1986 I started MaxiAids Products for Independent Living. I set out with the goal to find and develop new products and better technologies that would help people with special needs live more healthy, active and independent lives. And I was determined to keep the prices low so more of the people who really need the products could afford them.

So here we are 27 years later. I have poured my life and my heart into this business for the past 3 decades, and I am proud to say that MaxiAids has become all that I imagined it could be:
- We have been at the forefront of the independent living industry and are responsible for many inventions and developments in the field
- MaxiAids now carries the largest selection of products available - over 8,000 items
- Our product catalog is considered by many to be the reference guide of the industry
- We have had the privilege of serving millions of private customers and government agencies domestically and internationally
- I am very proud of our dedicated staff which, by the way, includes a number of blind, deaf and autistic people

- We also employ several deaf-blind individuals in a job training program. It’s inspiring to see them come in and help assemble items and do product repairs

In closing, I just want to say I consider myself fortunate in so many ways.

They say behind every successful man is a good woman. That is very true for me. I want to thank my wife for all she has done to support me, our family and our extended MaxiAids family. She has been a very important part of our success.

I also want to thank the MaxiAids management team: Larry DiBlasi, Barry Reiter, Barry Greenblatt and Terese Butler, as well as the entire staff who do a fantastic job keeping things running smoothly.

Even after all of these years I can say that I still go to work every day with the same passion for serving those in the special needs community that I had at the start.

And I am happy to say that I believe I am exactly where I was meant to be in life.

Thank you again for this honor. I look forward to the future, and to new and different opportunities for MaxiAids to partner with the ACB in their mission to support blind and visually impaired people.

Thank you.

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