Providing wheelchairs to people who need them around the world involves four phases of ministry: collection, transportation, restoration, and distribution. Our Chair Corps team is a nationwide network of volunteers that collect used, but restorable, wheelchairs. The wheelchairs are transported to restoration shops located in our nation’s correctional facilities, where inmates restore them to their original usefulness. Finally, the wheelchairs are shipped to distribution sites worldwide. There, our outreach teams make sure each recipient is carefully fitted to a wheelchair that meets their individual needs.
Step 1: Donated Chairs
Our volunteer organization, called Chair Corps, collects used wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes. It’s a wonderful opportunity for community-wide involvement. Churches, volunteer organizations, businesses, care facilities, and hospitals can all become involved. The Chair Corps representatives provide one or two local drop-off sites, making it easy for anyone in the community to donate wheelchairs and other mobility equipment.
How can you help?
- Donate a wheelchair, walker, crutches or cane.
- Organize or sponsor a wheelchair drive at your church or organization.
- Become a Chair Corps representative in your area.
Step 2: Transportation
Donated wheelchairs and other mobility equipment must be transported from local collection sites to the restoration shops in correctional facilities. Once they’ve been restored, they must be transported again, from the restoration shops to the ports of departure. This state-to-state trucking is a critical part of the program.
Currently, we have a limited amount of donated transportation both corporately and individually, but we need more.
How can you help?
- Are you a truck driver or do you know someone who is?
- Do you work in the trucking industry?
- Would you like to sponsor or support Wheels for the World transportation needs?
Step 3: Restoration
Wheels for the World currently restores wheelchairs at 15 correctional facilities, located in 12 different states. These prisons include federal, state, and private institutions.
Inmates are trained to restore wheelchairs to like-new condition. The inmates learn teamwork and the mechanical skills required to produce a product that makes a difference in someone’s life. Hardened inmates have been moved to tears when they see the photo of a little boy or girl receiving a wheelchair they helped provide. "Before, when I reached out, it was to take things or hurt people,” said one inmate. “Now it feels like I've reached halfway around the world through these bars – to help someone.”
Currently, Wheels for the World restoration shops are located in correctional facilities in Arizona, Tennessee, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Indiana, Ohio, Louisiana, Washington, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and California.
The need for wheelchairs worldwide is staggering. To address the need, Joni and Friends is continually expanding our restoration capabilities. We are actively seeking more locations for our restoration shops.
Step 4: Distribution
After wheelchairs have been restored to like-new condition, they are shipped to countries like China, Cuba, Romania, Ghana, Thailand, and India. They are distributed through our International Ministry Outreaches and also through our Harvest Project program. Click HERE to find out more about this program.
At the distribution sites in these countries, our volunteer teams of disability specialists fit each wheelchair to the recipient and provide training in its use and upkeep. Recipients also receive a Bible in their language and the message of God’s love. In some of these countries the cost of a wheelchair can equal a year's wages, making it almost impossible for people affected by disability to ever receive one. Because of this, each wheelchair delivered by Wheels for the World is a gift from God…a dream come true for the one who awaits the miracle of mobility.
Living in isolation, lacking simple mobility and cut off from life, many of the disabled are also tragically cut off from the local church. As a result, many have never heard the gospel message or experienced the love of Christ. During the outreach, our Wheels for the World teams speak and teach in local churches and communities, helping the local people to understand the needs of disabled people and how they can help. Whenever possible, construction teams are sent to help improve accessibility in churches, homes, and communities.
How can you help?
Join a Wheels for the World outreach team! We need:
- Physical/occupational therapists
- Wheelchair mechanics
- Administrative help
- General assistance