Above and Beyond: Volunteers helping to get uninsured neighbors mobility equipment

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — All this week, Good Morning Richmond is featuring people or groups that go above and beyond in the community.

Today’s story has many hands and helpers, with all volunteers coming together to get mobility equipment to our uninsured and under-insured neighbors.

Pedro Thomas is one of the deserving recipients of a motorized wheelchair.

“This is my car,” Thomas said. “See, like you all drive a car, this is my car to get around.”

This is Thomas’s second wheelchair since his first broke down after a few years.

With both cases, the James River Rotary Club helped Thomas get back on the move.

But Sherry Wilson, the operations assistant for the Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment and Endowment, said not everyone is as lucky as Thomas — even if people are insured.

“There is a loophole whereas if you get one piece of mobility equipment, it has to be five years before you can get another piece of equipment,” Wilson said. “A big demographic of people we help are those who fall within that five year guideline just waiting to get a new piece of equipment and their equipment fails.”

She works closely with Goodwill to collect donated mobility and bathroom equipment.

“Most of my inventory is in everybody’s garage or in their attic,” Wilson said.

Wilson said once the inventory is donated to an area Goodwill, it makes its way to their location. The volunteers can then go freely through the equipment, retrieve what they need, and disinfect the equipment before it goes back out to the community.

“The motto of rotary is service above self,” said Appaiah Ballachanda, James River Rotary Club President. “We try to live up to it.”

Members volunteer at least twice a week to make deliveries.

“They were able to donate a van, their time, and strength to take the equipment back and forth,” Wilson said.

As for Thomas, he couldn’t be happier for his gift on wheels.

“She helped me out a lot,” Thomas said. “I thank her very my much. Bless her heart.”

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