Joni and Friends Blog

The Impact of Wheels for the World

Many communities of people work together to bring the gift of mobility and the hope of Jesus to people in desperate need through Wheels for the World. From start to finish, one wheelchair will impact 150 people during it’s journey to someone with a disability.

We start with Collection. Used wheelchairs that are otherwise thrown away, are collected and recycled in the United States. Not only does this first step impact the local environment by keeping bulky mobility equipment out of landfills, but also the donor of the wheelchair. For a family that has recently lost a loved one, there’s often a sense of relief and joy, even in the midst of grief, knowing that their wheelchair will be life changing for someone else impacted by disability.

The second step is Restoration. Used wheelchairs come to us… well, used. We send the mobility equipment we receive to 15 prison-based restoration centers located throughout the country. There, inmates are taught the skills needed to restore the wheelchairs to like-new condition.

The Wheels for the World process finishes with Provision. During our wheels outreaches, teams of volunteers travel oversees to fit restored wheelchairs to people in less-resourced countries. These people are living in situations that are hard to imagine. Some are kept in dark, back rooms for their entire lives, unable to leave the house, attend school, or even see the sky. These wheelchairs literally lift a person impacted by disability out of the dirt and into a seat of freedom and respect.

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The inmates who work to restore wheelchairs are given a chance to see the gospel in action as they receive pictures of people who now have a wheelchair because of their work.

It’s very meaningful for them to know they are doing something to bless to someone else. It’s not a feeling that many of them have had during their time in prison. Restorative Justice programs are often self-focused, centered on self-improvement, but the Wheels for the World program gives inmates an opportunity to focus on someone else.

In addition, though an inmate may feel trapped in prison, they are able to give back to society as they actively work on a device that will provide freedom and relief from isolation to someone in need.

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“At the end of each shift, you feel like you have accomplished something worthwhile. We all know our efforts are helping someone who is in dire need.”

“We are a team working to help people in need. Each day I am reminded of how blessed I am and how I can utilize my time and talents to bless someone who is less fortunate than myself.”

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“It’s not about the job and it’s not about the money. It’s about seeing faces with a big smile with every [wheel]chair I do. I don’t know if my pen can write the right words to thank you for this opportunity to be close to God…I just want to thank you all very much, and I wish I could do more.”

“I am very happy doing this job and knowing each day the more wheelchairs I restore, the more people will get to know Christ as they receive a chair…God Bless You!”

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“I get to help the less fortunate people in the world and this makes me feel good inside. I know I am making a change, one wheelchair at a time. I have prayed every night… and I believe this is His way of showing me that I matter in the world and that I can accomplish anything I put my mind on.”

“It gives us as human beings a great chance to make a difference in the world. It gives one self-worth, pride, and brings hope and life to people here and around the world. This program brought back hope to a man who thought he had no hope left.”

Give the Gift of Mobility

Send the hope of Jesus and practical help to individuals and families impacted by disability.