For Joni and Friends Ohio the big question right now is what to do with over 400 wheelchairs that are scheduled to be refurbished and sent to El Salvador.
The wheelchairs, donated by nursing homes, hospitals and individuals, are currently stored in an old building at the Legacy Center in Xenia until they can be shipped to prisons, where inmates refurbish them.
However, that building is scheduled for demolition in the fall and the organization is in immediate need of 2,000 to 4,000 square feet of warehouse space, according to Donna Hughes, the area director of Joni and Friends Ohio.
The organization, located in another building at the Legacy Center, is the regional office of Joni and Friends, an international ministry dedicated to helping people with disabilities around the world.
The city of Xenia received a $2.7 million grant from the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund to be used at the Legacy Center to abate asbestos and other contamination from several buildings. The plan includes the demolition of some buildings, including the one being used to warehouse the wheelchairs.
Joni and Friends Ohio is looking for an area individual or business willing to donate warehouse space in exchange for a tax deduction. The space does not need to be clean but it does need to be dry.
“We throw wheelchairs out by the hundreds of thousands in this country. We tend to view them as disposable items or garbage,” Hughes said.
At least twice a year, Joni and Friends Ohio sends a group of volunteers, including physical therapists and mechanics, to El Salvador to outfit recipients with wheelchairs and train Salvadoran professionals to fit people with wheelchairs.
“God has opened doors for us there,” Hughes said, noting that during the three years of the “Wheels for the World” program in El Salvador, national elections have been made handicap accessible as have hospitals. The goal is to make all of El Salvador handicap accessible.
“It’s amazing what’s going on. People with disabilities are now being accepted into society and looked at as contributing members of society. Companies are employing them,” said Hughes.
More information is available at (937) 352-4095 or www.joniandfriends.org/ohio.