Ron Bloomingdale always had a desire to be involved, helping people with disabilities. “Two of our best friends were a couple who had cerebral palsy. We watched how they faced the daily challenges and successfully raised three children. As I approached retirement, I had the ideas that I could take broken wheelchairs and fix them in my garage,” said Ron.
Ron explained that he was not mechanically inclined, and realized this might be a problem. However, a visiting missionary sent us to see a ministry in Ohio that was set up to offer support and training in this work.
Ron and his wife Sally spoke with their pastor. “Our pastor was very encouraging and even gave us a little budget. We also spoke with a friend who helped us with starting points, gave us a small house where the church maintained a printing ministry, and gave us a pair of leg rests that needed repaired.”
“I asked a good friend if he was interested in helping, and he said yes. A freak snowstorm yielded an extra room at our workshop when several guys offered to help enclose an old porch. By the time the storm was finished, we had made several tables and the word was out. We had six new volunteers. Thirteen years later, we made several moves, sent numerous overseas shipments of durable medical equipment, and we had 30 volunteers…three of whom were in wheelchairs,” said Ron.
Ron explained that most of the volunteers had no real mechanical ability, very little knowledge of tools and how to use them, and no real understanding of the challenges faced by individuals who rely on aids to function. “Once people realized we were there, every sort of physical aid was donated. When something was donated, we put it on our tables. We started with cleaning, and worked to figure things out with our combined smatters of discussion and attempts to make it good as new. Teams came together! We had such good times and much hard work. Learning how to pack a semi-truck that was going to South America was a huge experience. Sharing lunch afterwards was such a good time to rejoice that so much equipment was on its way to people with nothing.”
“New Hospice & Community Care board member, Anson Merrick, was familiar with the ministry and called to see if the former members would be interested in setting up a repair shop at Hospice and training volunteers to repair medical equipment. After a meeting with Jennifer Graham and Sarah Dunning, several of the wheelchair guys agreed to be part of the new Caring Closet program.”
The DME Repair shop is open! “At this time we have built tables and purchased tools. On January 9, 2019 we had our first work day. As we begin, we are excited about meeting new volunteers willing to join the repair team. We are taking equipment that can’t be used and making it a tool for those who need it. This is such a blessing to them and to those who repair, said Ron”
“We are told in the Bible that we are to help, love and take care of our neighbor, orphans, widows and people with disabilities. Hospice is doing this with their Caring Closet…..Lets help!”
If you are interested in joining this amazing group of volunteers, please contact Hope Ruiz by calling 803-329-1500 or email her by clicking here. Potential volunteers do not need to be mechanically inclined, or knowledgeable. They just need to be excited to be part of an amazing group doing good work for the community.