By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – A group of local volunteers needs help making the rubber meet the road for those who have trouble getting around.
Heart to Heart Ministries, which supplies wheelchairs, scooters, walkers and canes to those in need who can’t get help by other means, is seeking equipment donations and funds to repair the donations that need refurbishing. The Rev. Jerry Lee Williams, the group’s founder, said some of the cancer patients it serves have to wait so long for a Medicaid-sponsored wheelchair that sometimes they die before receiving mobility aid.
“Most of the people that called us have Stage 4 cancer,” he said. “That’s sad, because right now they should enjoy … the end of their life. They need to not worry about finances and how they are going to be able to get outside to enjoy the fresh air, so that they can have a good life until their end.”
Accepting used equipment to make that happen has come with a price, however. Six of the last nine wheelchairs donated to Heart to Heart had to be fixed, Williams said.
“I do have two scooters there, but they don’t work,” he said. “They need to be rebuilt. It would cost more to rebuild them than it would to get a new one.”
Finding repair shops for scooters and motorized wheelchairs also is difficult, he said. A volunteer who could do that would be “an answer to a prayer.”
“We need volunteers, we need financial help,” he said. “But most of all we need somebody that has the knowledge to (fix them).”
Some donated hospital beds also need repair.
“I am not going to send anything out that is going to be more of a risk than it was before,” Williams said. “I want them to be safe, secure, but most of all I want them to get them right away.”
The need for donated wheelchairs has risen in the last two years, he said. Heart to Heart has helped people in Allen Park, Garden City, Lincoln Park, Melvindale, Westland and Wyandotte.
“We (saw) people struggling and not being able to get wheelchairs,” Williams said. “They have to come to the Melvindale Fire Department and ask for a chair. If they don’t have them, I have it, and we give it to them.”
As of Monday, though, both the ministry and the Fire Department are out of wheelchairs to pass along.
In addition equipment, Williams also is seeking volunteers who can raise funds through charitable benefits for the group.
As of Sept. 1, Heart to Heart’s waiting list featured requests for 22 wheelchairs and one electric scooter, which can cost $1,000 to $2,000 each.
“I just sold something that meant something to me to buy over a hundred walkers for $500, so when I see things like that, I’ll sell my own stuff and make sure their needs are taken care of, and that makes me feel good,” Williams said. “But I’m running out of things to sell.”
The needs change daily. The Fire Department helps them become aware and acquire potential mobility equipment donations as well. Heart to Heart does not receive tithes to support its charitable work.
“We do everything by faith,” Williams said, “and it’s kind of hard when you’re not getting anything in. We’ve got tons coming out.”
Hospital equipment donations to Heart to Heart are accepted at E & S Associates LLC, 1148 Biddle Ave. in Wyandotte, and Faith Christian Assembly (Pentecostal) Church, 25201 W. Outer Drive in Melvindale.