NEWS: Inmates at Taft Correctional Facility help victims of Hurricane Harvey with refurbished wheelchairs

 

 

 

THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

October 3, 2017

The victims of Hurricane Harvey are still mourning and trying to get back to normalcy. And the inmates at Taft Correctional Facility are trying to help with that though a ministry called Joni and Friends, founded by quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada.

The organization, which has been around for more than 35 years, provides wheelchairs to disabled individuals in need around the world. It does this by taking refurbished wheelchairs and giving them to inmates to repair. The organization says it gives inmates a good job and way to give back to society.

So when word got out that Hurricane Harvey victims needed wheelchairs, Taft Correctional Facility had some ready to go. The prisoners donated 350 wheelchairs, 100 walkers, 100 pairs of crutches and 35 canes, according to a news release. This was the first time the organization donated supplies within the U.S.

The supplies were out Sept. 7, reaching Houston just in time to do the most good for people of all ages.

Carlos, a 10-year-old boy, was one of those who received a wheelchair. He arrived at the distribution site in Houston with his mother, and they were unable to bring along his wheelchair when they were rescued from their house. Carlos and his mother had planned to go back home to get his wheelchair, but after sewage water overflowed into the flood waters, that was no longer an option.

Carlos was stuck with a wheelchair loaned to him by his school, but it was too small. His mother contacted their insurance agency for a new one but was told that instead of the usual six months, it would likely take a full year to get Carlos a new chair because of the disaster.

So Carlos’ mother had to carry him until they found a viable wheelchair.

Thankfully, his mother heard about the Joni and Friends wheelchair distribution through an announcement from the Mayor’s Office, and he was fit into a wheelchair that, he said, is more comfortable than the one he lost.

“With tears in her eyes, Carlos’ mother expressed her gratitude for Joni and Friends who, in the midst of disaster, was willing to help those with disabilities,” said A. Larry Ross Communications in a news release. “With so many people needing attention following the hurricane, those with disabilities were often left out or the last to receive care. Hope was brought to Carlos, his mother, and that hard-hit Texas community through Joni and Friends’ timely distribution of wheelchairs and Beyond Suffering Bibles!”

Carlos and his mother weren’t the only ones filled with joy because of a new wheelchair.

A 50-year-old man in need of a wheelchair and his neighbor, who was taking care of him, were rescued by boat and taken to the distribution site in Houston. After most of the water subsided, the two returned to their homes and discovered that one of the men’s house was looted and his wheelchair stolen.

A news release says the only wheelchair replacement they could find was through an organization they couldn’t afford.

But then they heard the same announcement Carlos did.

“The wheelchair recipient’s neighbor almost collapsed in Mary Grace’s arms because of the gracious support and care that his neighbor experienced.”