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Deals on wheels spark cooperative effort

Generous donations find new users waiting for them

by: COURTESY PHOTO - Karen Eberhardt of Forest Grove and Ruben Talavera of Cornelius were the lucky recipients of two power wheelchairs from the Forest Grove Senior & Community Center, which regularly loans out medical equipment ranging from walkers and shower chairs to commodes and non-electric wheelchairs.Two Forest Grove seniors have new wheels thanks to a joint effort between an Oregon Healthcare Commission caseworker, the Forest Grove Senior and Community Center, and Brian Schimmel, a Meals on Wheels volunteer who also runs the community outreach program for Sonrise Church in Forest Grove.

The center takes donations of medical equipment they lend out to needy seniors at no cost. Two electric wheelchairs were recently donated. After some wheelchair refurbishing, John Schallberger, the center’s executive director, got a call from caseworker Debra Owsley. She had two clients who sorely needed such wheelchairs but she had no way to deliver them.

That’s where Schimmel came in. While delivering meals to homebound seniors, Schimmel noticed many of them had relatively small, fixable problems — clogged gutters, a door coming off a hinge, junk that needed to be hauled away. Through Sonrise, he created a “community outreach” network to help.

“Without the network I wouldn’t have known where to go,” Schallberger said. He contacted Schimmel, who picked up the chairs from the center and delivered them.

These are currently the only two power wheelchairs at the center, which loans them out on a three-month basis, with renewal possible if no one else needs them. Schallberger said he just got another request for one Monday morning.

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