In a building on Waupaca’s west side, six men work to repair wheelchairs and scooters and match them to those who need them most.
Mobility 4 Vets Wheelchair Shop opened at 270 Grand Seasons Drive last June 1.
“There was just such a need for what we did,” said Ken Tourville.
He was referring to the previous Disabled American Veterans Wheel Chair Shop, which was located at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King.
After that shop closed in October of 2011, six of the volunteers, who had worked there, thought the work was important for those with mobility issues.
Mobility 4 Vets Wheelchair Shop, an LLC, was thus founded last May by Tourville, Jack Huse, Alan Kjelland, Jack Knabenbauer, Chuck Posnanski and Frank Shafer.
All but one of them are veterans themselves.
“Our priority is veterans, but we will help anbyody. We help somebody who needs help,” Tourville said.
It was a year ago that they began talking about opening a shop – with a new name, at a new location.
“We were fortunate to get the building rent free,” Kjelland said. “We just have to pay the utilities.”
The shop is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. They may be reached at 715-281-6175.
The motto at King was “veterans serving veterans,” and it is their motto, too.
They strive to provide equipment for members and patients at veterans’ facilities, as well as for those in need from various veterans organizations in the state, including AMVETS, the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Purple Hearts Organization, the Marine Corps League, the Women’s Veterans Organization, the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans.
They also seek to help non-veterans, who suffer from polio, muscular dystrophy and other restricting diseases and disorders.
“When people call, they want to make sure it goes to a veteran or a person in need,” Tourville said. “We try to match it up that way. We think we’re doing a real good service, and we feel good about it.”
The group started from scratch.
They received a donation from AMVETS, with five of the six volunteers also loaning seed money to start the shop.
“We have had contributions of wheelchairs. We get lots of support from veterans,” Kjelland said. “Not many people do what we do.”
The number of repairs they make requires both a large inventory of spare parts and cash flow for purchasing the necessary parts and equipment to put units back into working order.
They depend on donations of equipment and money.
The shop has crutches, walkers, shower chairs, wheelchairs and scooters.
In addition, they collect and distribute other devices used by those who have mobility needs, including commodes, lifts and tailgate accessories.
If they are unable to fix a donated item, they take it apart and recycle it.
The six men volunteer their time, and they filed the necessary paperwork last spring to apply for 501(c)3 status.
They have different talents and expertise but all enjoy serving a need in the community.
People from throughout the state and also Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are learning about the shop through word of mouth.
Some are in need of a piece of equipment, while others want to donate equipment, which is no longer being used.
The shop has a space for doing repairs and also a room showing their available equipment.
In addition to offering equipment for those with mobility issues, they also sell batteries for equipment, at cost.
“It just makes you feel good to help someone,” Tourville said. “Mobility opens up a new world for people.”