West Hollywood resident Jim Chud will receive an Access Award next month from the L.A. County Commission on Disabilities.
Chud was selected for the award by Sheila Kuehl, L.A. County Supervisor for the Third District, which includes West Hollywood. Award recipients are those who have worked on behalf of individuals with disabilities, made significant contributions towards equality for individuals with disabilities and served as a role model for individuals with disabilities.
Chud is an expert in artificial intelligence and an architect and has a master’s in psychotherapy. Chud has served on WeHo’s Disabilities Advisory Board and on the L.A. County Commission on HIV. He also has launched a non-profit, AdvanceAbilities Inc., whose mission is to chronicle the stories of disable seniors in the United States and also to provide tools to help them better experience life.
Chud has been HIV positive for more than half of his life. He was part of a test of an experimental HIV drug that proved very toxic and caused cartilage degeneration in his joints and spine that has resulted in more than 30 surgeries. Chud was diagnosed in 1999 with a fungal infection of his sinus and brain that also required surgeries and many courses of toxic medication. It was a struggle that left him in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for five months and, at one point, broke and homeless.
“The gift of being broke made me more empathetic and aware of the ways that we can help each other,” Chud said in an interview with West Hollywood Community Housing Corp., in whose Sierra Bonita building he lives.
Chud has spent years researching obstacles that disabled people face to living life. Among those are the failure of websites such as Yelp to note whether a restaurant is accessible by disabled people and issues with “rollators,” the devices used by some to assist them in walking, that no manufacturer seems to be addressing.
Chud cites his experience as a resident of the Sierra Bonita as part of the inspiration for creating AdvanceAbilities.
“Over the last 7 years, I have lived in a building purpose built with both the funding and mission to house and provide social support services for disabled seniors and helping us create a mutually supportive community, he says. “Sadly, I have watched the senseless decline of many neighbors merely because they have not received the support promised us all when we moved in. Adding in a lack of family support and unfamiliarity with American customs serves to make the situation even more dire for some.
“Now that I am well enough to give solving this problem my all, I simply cannot just sit by and watch anymore,” Chud says “… I feel confident about our documentaries’ ability to inspire others to act with me. I have met many inspiring people along my way, and am certain to meet many others. I am more certain than ever before that we will make a difference – a big difference.”
The event takes place at 11:30 a.m. at the Omni Hotel, 251 South Olive St. in Los Angeles. Reservations can be made online.