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Offenders Give Back By Refurbishing Hundreds Of Wheelchairs

  • Wheelchair

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    Photo: Gretchen Frazee (WTIU/WFIU News)

    Inmates strip the wheelchairs, clean and repair, then reassemble each one. Each chair has to pass a number of checks before being considered ready for shipping.

  • wheelchairs

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    Photo: Pendleton Correctional Industrial Facility

    Finished wheelchairs at the Pendleton Facility- ready to be shipped and delivered to people in Thailand.

Inmates at the Pendleton Correctional Industrial facility are refurbishing wheelchairs to help people with disabilities.

It started out as a small project. The Pendleton Correctional Industrial Facility set a goal to refurbish 200 wheelchairs for the year. So far they’ve doubled that number – supplying 442 chairs to people in Romania and Thailand through the Wheels for the World program.

But all the hard work is about more than just making wheelchairs…

“Oh it’s a big shot in the arm for them on giving back to the community,” says William Hyatte, Assistant Superintendent of Operations.

He says the program has gained popularity at the facility. Now, 18 offenders work to refurbish the chairs for 7 to 8 hours a day.

“Well they really get a sense of doing the right thing for once in their life or getting involved with something that’s a feel good program,” he says.

Hyatte says the positions in the program are at such high demand, that inmates are interviewed prior to their acceptance to the job.

He hopes to expand the program to offer more positions to inmates and increase wheelchair donations across the world.

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