Archives for posts with tag: volunteers

Its not as interesting in the shop without the volunteer camaraderie and it has very quiet in the workshop this year, waiting for the right time to re-establish weekly volunteer wheelchair refurbishing opportunities. That time is NOW. Contact me via email using patrick@wheelsofhope.org if you are interested in helping with cleaning, small repairs and lubrication of our backlog of wheelchairs for overseas shipment to those in need in Thailand and Honduras.

Here’s what I’ve been up to until volunteer training begins again:

2021 has been the perfect opportunity to focus my work on the backlog of tilt-in-space (TIS) wheelchairs in need of more intricate and creative repair. These are the chairs that need more than just cleaning, small repairs and lubrication which our regular volunteers addressed. There is a great need for pediatric-sized wheelchairs and the TIS perfectly fill that need. They are designed to accommodate a child’s growth, but they can be made smaller and not as deep seated for the youngest children in need. Most of the chairs we have are 18″ to 20″ wide. But we are able to down-size them to 12″ to be given to the smallest child.

A child’s special wheelchair after TLC

To narrow the width, the five adjustable spacer bars are removed, made shorter and reinstalled. The seating area is made shallower by just moving the back supports forward. Then I modify the rigid seats and backs that are not custom molded and can be made smaller by cutting the plywood base and re-stapling the covering over the edges again.

Getting foot or leg rests (rigging) to use can be interesting. Some of the chairs never had them so creative things need to be done. Making rigging from different types of attachments and manufactures is challenging. Its nice when I just walk around the warehouse and find what will work just sitting on top of one of the other chairs or in some other odd place!

A children’s specialty wheelchair with newly adapted footrests

Last but not least are the wheels, tires and bearings. The tires are not very worn but do suffer from age. Cracks in the rubber treads and sidewalls will only last for so long. If they are really bad, I’ll try and replace them. It seems the wheel bearings pick up rug fibers and hair that gets inside the “sealed” bearing. These get soaked in cleaner and freed up and greased and re-installed. If they can’t be reworked, then they are replaced with good used ones.

Once the chair is reassembled and checked that it reclines and operates correctly, it is made as compact as possible for shipping and stretch wrapped. Lifting the chair on to and off the bench is difficult. These chairs can weigh as much as seventy pounds completed. So I have made a way to get them on and off with out injuring my back.

The back-saving lift I use to move the 70+ pound pediatric wheelchair
Stretch-wrapped children’s specialty wheelchairs staged for shipping

This is how I have been using my talent and this season of working solo, on loan from God. I am grateful for His giving me the abilities to work with Him to provide mobility to the least of the least.

There is a good inventory of regular wheelchairs just waiting to be reconditioned, but we need new young and healthy volunteers for that. (Our former group of retirees had served for over a decade and are well into their 80s, many with health issues of their own which the pandemic has only intensified.) Many of these chairs were used commercially and damaged. They need dismantled for usable parts and the rest of the chair prepared to be recycled for the steel. This would make a great home school or youth group project.

We continue our prayers for getting this vital ministry opportunity into the hearts and hands of younger people, new volunteers, new board members and leadership.

We are starting again in earnest to recondition equipment and share our need of volunteers, and ways younger folks can help make a difference in the lives of persons with disabilities world wide:

If you lead a youth group, and can come on a Saturday morning, we have acres of walkers that need checked for functionality: with the good ones getting any missing rubber feet and shrink wrapped for shipping and the broken ones set aside to strip for scrap metal. We also have lots of crutches that need paired, and tipped with missing rubber feet and wrapped as well.

Wheels of Hope donated crutches and walkers in need of sorting and reconditioning for shipment to those in need in Thailand or Honduras

If you like to pull things apart: we have some wooden racks that we wish to disassemble, to make room for another staging area that is closer to the shop.

If you want to learn how to recondition wheelchairs in the heated shop, we need a new team of a few younger volunteers to come in one day a week and start the restoration train going again. 

Wheels of Hope donated wheelchairs in need of reconditioning in 2021 and beyond


All has remained quiet at the warehouse over the last 18 months, as one Covid wave after another makes us reconsider recruiting a new team of retirees to volunteer. We were hopeful after so many we knew were vaccinated, but then break-through Covid redefined the whole concept of break-through … In September we lost a dear friend and long-time Wheels of Hope financial supporter to break-through Covid. And the new wrinkle of infections and spread among the fully vaccinated does influence what older retirees can safely do. We will not recruit the vulnerable … 

The photo below is telling: the date on the tag is when our team of faithful octogenarians last volunteered. After many had served since their early 70s … it all came to a screeching halt in March 2020. Who knew these dedicated volunteers, many in fragile states of health, would never be able to safely return?

The reconditioning date of this donated chair from the Akron Canton airport reads 2-20-20 … just about the last week our volunteers worked as a team.


The good news is we’re all tired of the isolation, and the warehouse is BIG … we have so much floor space one can almost get lost in the maze … so it truly is one of the safer places to visit and fellowship for younger, more healthy people.

Meanwhile, there have been plenty of specialty chairs to keep Patrick busy, although working alone. These complicated seating systems require more expertise, and Patrick never got time to fix them when he was managing volunteers, looking to supply our team with the basic chairs and parts and assisting them as needed.

So these 18 months have not been wasted.

We want to continue to be good stewards of every donated piece of equipment we receive, and can’t keep them waiting …

Please spread the word: Uncle Patrick needs your (?) TLC!

Our warehouse location is in Canton, Ohio on the second floor above The Stock Pile, 1387 Clarendon Ave SW, Canton, Ohio 44710.

E-mail patrick@wheelsofhope.org if you are interested in helping to set up a time. Thanks!

Troop leader Denise is an inspiration

Everyday is recycle day at the warehouse.

We had Boy Scout Troop #48 down on Saturday March 19th.
They really went to work at removing a mountain, a mountain of cardboard boxes from some of the equipment we receive from Invacare. If someone knows of a cardboard crusher machine we could have it could help Wheels of Hope in the support and recycling responsibilities.

They also started to dismantle the rollators that are damaged beyond repair in our recycling project. We will get them to the scrap yard and this will help our funding.

We are quite blessed to have so many volunteers! Thanks to all of you!

At this time our aluminum and steel scrap are two income sources for us. If we had a cardboard crusher we could gain income from the boxes. River Valley Paper Company will come and get the cardboard for us at no cost. If we were to bail it,  we could get $90 a bail. Giving them the boxes clears out of our space and keeps the landlord happy.

Invacare has provided hundreds of aluminum rollators. Some are repairable and others are for parts. We can combine parts from two, to make a complete usable one. We also receive heavy duty steel rollators that are not needed in the countries we ship to. Thailand and South America have smaller stature folks.

We repair the light weight rollators that can used and part out and scrap the damaged beyond repair ones. We are quite backed up with ones that need repair, our counterpart in Thailand says they have volunteers who can do this. So they will be getting quite a few to repair in the three upcoming shipments.

Two Scouts strip a broken rollator for parts

We can use the wheels, bearings, bolts and other parts on some of our chairs and send other wheels to Hope Haven International Ministries for the chairs they build.

Thanks, Scouts, for a job well done!

— Patrick Rimke

Just spent the last few hours talking with two past Board Members of Wheels of Hope. The first visit was about communication and getting the word out and getting people involved. The second was similar, getting the equipment out to those in need. God sure is good!

— Patrick