Once a KidChair wheelchair has made its way to the child who ultimately receives it (in a country like Vietnam and Romania), it has usually made a long journey around the world. The roots of that KidChair can be traced back to Hope Haven International Ministries (HHIM) workshops – often one in Orange City, IA. Located in a building along the highway, amongst the Northwestern College campus, the Trinity Reformed Wheelchair Workshop is comprised of 8-10 volunteers who gather to construct and assemble KidChair “kits” twice a week.
In order to create a KidChair wheelchair kit, these volunteers diligently perform a number of tasks – including tracing, cutting, sewing - and working with various fabrics and foam to construct the cushion aspects of the wheelchair. The completed kits are then sent to one of a few HHIM workshops that assemble the final product – a functional KidChair.
The group is composed largely of volunteers from area Reformed churches, and operates on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. It’s a small space, but wisely utilized, and generously provided by Northwestern College. Despite some pauses last spring due to the pandemic, the shop is currently functional and full of activity - and has been for about a year.
The group that works here not only has passion for the wheelchairs they are producing, but also has displayed a great deal of ambition to see the workshop come to fruition. Stemming from a volunteer inquiry at church in 2019, the group has brought forth many participants who view this endeavor as a more than just a one-time opportunity. Rather, it’s become a longer-term involvement for most. Speaking on this level of commitment, volunteer Dave Mars comments, “the longevity of volunteers is critical and such a blessing.”
Additionally, many of the volunteers, like Jerry Dykstra and his wife Chris, have put forth plenty of time and effort to get the shop operational – offering to help clean, install lighting, organize work flow, among many other tasks. Trinity Reformed Church also donated a new sewing machine to help productivity, and Den Hartog Industries has manufactured punches to help improve the efficiency and quality of the workshop.
This endeavor involves Pioneer Retirement Home and Prairie Ridge Nursing home, where ladies help with cutting out fabric. Harriet Kleinhesselink and Artie Hegstad have both taken a keen interest in participating. The contributions from these women greatly help in moving the process along.
With the combined efforts of all their volunteers, this workshop has produced approximately 130 wheelchair kits since their inception. “While what we do at times seems simple, placing that child in that chair is our goal…being the hands and feet of Jesus,” Mars explains. Hope Haven is deeply grateful for all our generous volunteers who contribute their time and energy to improving the lives of individuals with disabilities!