A volunteer for the Epilepsy Foundation of Oregon (EFO), Ken Porath is founder and Volunteer Coordinator of the statewide Library Epilepsy Education Project. In starting the Library Project, Mr. Porath personally visited 222 of the 224 public library sites across the state (two were temporarily closed) in 1997 to assist librarians with implementing a statewide network of public education about epilepsy.
Two-thirds of epileptics’ biggest concern is that the public misunderstands their illness, which results in a need for public education. Mr. Porath is himself the grandfather of a teen with epilepsy and has been volunteering for the United Way, EFO and his local library for over ten years. The Library Project addresses the lack of public information about epilepsy by giving an unlimited number of people access to current epilepsy resources and promoting the information through community networks and the media.
Mr. Porath assisted local librarians with setting up visible displays of epilepsy education brochures, familiarizing them with the information, and issuing news releases about the easy availability of the information. The Epilepsy Foundation provided each library with a customized resource kit. He then began volunteer recruitment across the state to ensure at least one volunteer for every two library sites that would keep the resources current, deliver new material, and promote community attention.
The EFO supports 33,000 people with epilepsy in the state, an area of 100,000 square miles. They fund Mr. Porath's program with in-kind contributions of materials and pay for some program-related costs. Mr. Porath paid for all of his transportation costs associated with his driving across the state to visit every library site.
The EFO has been approached by other epilepsy foundations about replicating the Library Program. Similar programs have been started in other areas, including Nebraska and Florida. The EFO will be presenting their program at the Epilepsy Foundation of America's National Conference this year.
Mr. Porath volunteers in three positions for the EFO: the Program Committee, the Advisory Committee for TAPS (a federal grant program facilitating employment of individuals with epilepsy), and as Volunteer Coordinator for the Library Project.