A new year often comes with new resolutions and goals for many individuals, businesses, and organizations. Hope Haven is no exception; their mission as an international ministry in 2023 is to increase the number of refurbished adult and manufactured kid wheelchairs distributed globally. “Data from the World Health Organization shows that there are 70 million people in the world who need a wheelchair, but only 5-15% of them have one,” stated Luke Russell, Hope Haven International Ministries Director. “Meaning there are nearly 60 million people who are being carried by their parents, dragging themselves on the ground, or trapped in a room unable to move by themselves.”
Currently, Hope Haven refurbishes approximately 2,500 adult wheelchairs and manufactures nearly 2,500 kid wheelchairs annually. However, over the next two years, the need for refurbished adult wheelchairs and manufactured kid wheelchairs will increase to about 10,000 chairs each. The ability to meet that goal and increase production by that many depends on the number of volunteers. “Volunteers are the heart and soul of how so many chairs have been distributed across the globe,” stated Terry Meyer, Chief Financial Officer. Hope Haven is actively seeking anyone interested in volunteering to help maximize the number of wheelchairs being refurbished and manufactured.
Hope Haven’s vision to provide refurbished wheelchairs for people around the globe began in 1994 after a board member visited the Dominican Republic in 1991 and recognized the need. It was evident that many people do not have the resources to acquire a wheelchair. Hope Haven started refurbishing adult
wheelchairs with great success; however, it wasn’t long before the need for kid wheelchairs became a stark reality as well. In 1999, four students attending Dordt College engineered a wheelchair for Hope Haven International to use that was designed for kids. The design came in two different sizes with many adjustable components allowing the wheelchair to grow and change as the child grows. With the help of many volunteers, Hope Haven began manufacturing the two sizes of wheelchairs for kids in 2001 while continuing to refurbish adult wheelchairs. “Since the first distribution in 1994, Hope Haven has refurbished and manufactured over 137,000 adult and kid wheelchairs that have been distributed in 109 countries,” stated Meyer.
Hope Haven is eager to have more people interested in volunteering to help refurbish and manufacture wheelchairs. Volunteers work at their own pace and make their schedules. They usually work various days, Monday-Friday, between 8:00 AM-4:30 PM. Some people work once a week while others work more frequently, but any amount of time someone is willing to give is appreciated. People are often concerned about their lack of knowledge and ability to build things, but Meyer explains that each person's skill set is utilized as there are many different jobs and tasks. A variety of tasks include cutting, bending, or drilling aluminum pipes or plastic blocks for the kid chairs. Some volunteers spend their time assembling brackets and seating frames while others disassemble old adult chairs. Currently, one of the greatest needs is for volunteers who can sew the fabric together to make the seats and headrests for the chairs. “We have a huge need for sewers, and we have a room at the Rock Valley location for just that,” explained Russell. During their time supporting Hope Haven’s mission, volunteers also enjoy the fellowship with one another as they work.
Maybe your goal for 2023 is to volunteer more or help a great cause. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you or someone you know would like to help further Hope Haven’s mission. Many staff members are available and excited to talk to potential volunteers. The best way to get connected with volunteering is to call or email Drew Smith or Kelly Te Slaa. You can contact Drew at firstname.lastname@example.org or 712-470-1737, or Kelly at email@example.com. “We get to help change lives for the better, and we need all the help we can get to do that," stated Russell. “After all, every extra wheelchair fixed or made is one more we can offer while spreading the Gospel.”
To learn more about volunteering and sign up, visit https://www.hopehaven.org/volunteer
Article Published by Amanda Friedrichsen, Staff Writer at the Rock Valley Bee