Disability Network Southwest Michigan met Joe this spring through a connection with Kalamazoo Gospel Ministries (KGM). Disability Network frequently collaborates with other service agencies in our communities to coordinate resources for the benefit of our mutual customers. Until last August, Joe was completely independent; he was a truck driver and lived with his sister and her family when not on the road. Last summer he developed sepsis due to an infection in his legs which resulted in both of his feet being amputated. Obviously this had a profound impact on his life. Joe was provided with a wheelchair following his surgery, however, his sister’s house was not wheelchair accessible and Joe turned to Kalamazoo Gospel Ministries for housing.
Joe found the manual wheelchair was difficult to maneuver. He quickly developed carpel tunnel and arthritis in his hands and wrists. He was limited to a one block radius unless he found someone to push him and then he was dependent on them getting him back to KGM as well.
From time to time, Disability Network receives donations from community members for various mobility devices. These donations are cleaned and repaired, if needed, and then are ready to be passed along to someone in need. Joe’s case worker at KGM, Jaron, reached out to our Information & Referral department to inquire about getting a motorized wheelchair for Joe. At the time we had several chairs in stock and we were able to provide one for him that was a good fit.
After having the chair for a month, Joe said, “This chair makes all the difference for me. Now I can go pretty much anywhere I need to and not depend on someone else to get there or worry I will be stranded. I can go to restaurants, I can use public transportation to go shopping when I need to; it’s great.” The motorized chair has given Joe the tools he needs to be able to live independently. He is currently working on a Section-8 housing assistance application to find an accessible, affordable apartment. Jaron said, “Joe is feeling like a rock star these days with his advanced mobility!”