Final Volunteerism Award Nominee

The Volunteerism Awards are only two days away and we only have one more volunteer to share! We have talked about Evan as well on the blog and we are excited to celebrate him and the award ceremony this week!

Evan first volunteers for Free Wheelchair Mission in 2012 at the Long Beach Marathon. Since then, he has been a dedicated weekly volunteer who is always willing to help in any way that he can. His heart for Free Wheelchair Mission is evident in his dedication to come in week after week.

He has helped with many tasks including: management of our warehouse, wheelchair inventory and individual wheelchair shipping procedures. These tasks are not easy and can be somewhat disorganized by nature but are tasks that are crucial to our fundraising and spreading awareness of our vision. He has made things run smoother and words do not suffice to express our gratitude for his dedication.

Above it all, he is considered a friend to everyone in the office and everyone loves when he comes in to volunteer. Evan is consistent, innovative, hardworking and a great friend to all of us. His efforts have truly made a difference in our office and those in need of a wheelchair around the world!

Please click here to see his official nomination and wish him a congratulations!

Friday Story: A Long Trip


As most of you know, our distribution partners often travel to some of the most remote areas of the world to provide the gift of mobility. But it is their life’s work to lift people off of the ground and into their own wheelchair. The story below is from Causes for Change, our partner in Panama.

We had a wheelchair for Kevin, an 8 year old living with his parents in a very remote town of Guayabal. In order to deliver the wheelchair we had to travel by walking two hours, the wheelchair was delivered by horseback. The entire time it was raining very hard and we had to navigate through the mud. But we did not complain, we needed to see this family and provide Kevin with a wheelchair. 


Kevin’s family live by very meager means. They live off the land by growing their own beans, fishing and raising some of their own livestock. Their home is dark and has very little ventilation.  They also do not have an adequate chair for Kevin to sit in, so he spent much of his time alone in a hammock or inside on the floor. As he continues to grow, it has been more and more difficult for his mother to carry him or take him outside, so the wheelchair will really help, it will keep him safe and allow him to enjoy the scenery around their home. 


When Kevin saw the chair he became emotional as it reminded him of when his mother has to take him on a monthly basis to his doctor appointments by bus. The wheelchair made him feel like he had his own car with wheels, it was a beautiful thing to experience, his smile, and his happiness said it all. His mother too was happy and appreciative of how the wheelchair will help her as well.

Our distribution partners work hard and often under difficult conditions. We are so thankful for each of our partners who have the drive to provide mobility; we couldn’t do it without them. We also couldn’t do it without you and your support. Thank you for making children like Kevin have a brighter tomorrow.



Volunteerism Award Nominee #3

We are one day closer to honoring our volunteers in person, but we can’t wait to share with you about our next volunteer…or should I say volunteerwho are going to be joining us at the award ceremony next week! We told you a bit about John and Zeph when they recently spoke about FWM at 100.3 The Sound.

John Jaramillo has been involved with Free Wheelchair Mission for over two years now. Since first discovering the organization through a presentation at work, John has not only become extremely involved with our mission, but he has also encouraged his young son to get involved as well. Following in his father’s footsteps, Zeph has become one of our youngest spokesman for Free Wheelchair Mission and is instrumental in helping us educate today’s youth about the importance of mobility in developing countries around the world.

This dynamic father and son duo are regular supporters, event volunteers, and speakers for FWM, getting the word out about our mission in communities all over Southern California. Two of the biggest volunteer speaking engagements they have done for the organization were a feature during the LA Marathon on KTLA, as well as multiple interviews on 100.3 The Sound radio station!

We are extremely grateful for John and Zeph’s passion for our mission, and their dedication to raising awareness and support for our mission!

Please click here to see the formal nomination form and wish them congratulations!

Volunteerism Award Nominee #2

The Volunteerism Award is coming up and so today, we wanted to share with you another volunteer we are so honored to have – Carrie Tendler. We have shared about her once before in an ambassador highlight. This time, we wanted to share with you why she was nominated for the Volunteerism Awards!

Carrie has demonstrated her generosity with both her time and design talents over the years with volunteer work at schools, her church and ministry service. Two years ago, Carrie discovered Free Wheelchair Mission and immediately started volunteering on a regular basis.  Carrie’s family had personally experienced the need for a wheelchair within their family unit and recognized the difficulty and tragedy of the disabled poor who have no access to mobility in the developing world.

In addition to her weekly volunteer hours at Free Wheelchair Mission, Carrie has become a strong ambassador within her community, and has planned and managed many of her own fundraisers. She planned a luncheon in her home last spring, in addition to selling a delicious “hot chocolate” mix during the holiday season.  Her “hot chocolate” was a great success and to date, Carrie’s fundraising efforts have generated donations for approximately 70 wheelchairs.

Carrie’s grace, positive attitude and generous heart for others has made this world a better place for all!

Please click here to see all the notes of congratulations and her nomination form.

Volunteerism Award Luncheon 2014

It is that time of year again. That time of year where we wrap around arms and hearts around our amazing volunteers and take out a couple hours of time to say THANK YOU to each of them. This year we have five amazing volunteers who have unbelievable hearts for those in desperate need of a wheelchair. Over the next week, you’ll be getting to hear about each one of these volunteers! We hope this is as inspiring and touching to you as it is to us!

Angelica Flyn

For the first one, we want to introduce you to Angelica! Angelica is 26 years old and works as a physical therapist at an out-patient orthopedic setting. On the weekends she also works in an in-patient acute care hospital (busy, busy, busy)! Being involved with Free Wheelchair Mission has allowed her to combine her love for mobility and for helping others!

Angelica Flynn has contributed extensively as a volunteer to the growth and development of FWM’s wheelchair program. While a graduate student at Azusa Pacific University, she helped to design a full five-day Wheelchair Distribution Training Program which has been rolled out beginning in July of 2012. Since then, she has participated in three international training trips, helping our partners  to understand the importance of proper wheelchair distribution.We have trained partners in Vietnam, Chile, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru and India with the program she helped to design.

We’re so grateful to Angelica for her years of service, her commitment to our mission, and willingness to share her expertise at no cost is a blessing not just to FWM but to the wheelchair recipients we strive to serve!

Please wish her a congratulations and check out her official nomination here.

Health and Wellness for Mobility

We love the unique and special ways that our ambassadors give up for mobility! This one connects our love of mobility and health and wellness into a tightly wrapped bow!

Melody heard about Free Wheelchair Mission in 2007 when she was in Physical Therapy school. Her professor, Dr. Susan Shore, was working on doing pressure mapping research for our Free Wheelchair Mission wheelchairs (Dr. Susan Shore has also done a study on the impact of our wheelchairs which you can see here). While Melody was in Dr. Shore’s class, Don (our founder) came to speak to her class about our mission. Melody has had a heart for the mission since that day. Over the years she donated periodically and then in 2008, together with her sister, they raised $1500 for the Run for Mobility.

Melody now owns her own Physical Therapy Clinic and we just recently found out that Melody donates to Free Wheelchair Mission on behalf of her patients! After the patients first six visits, Melody makes a donation of a wheelchair in their name. How cool is that??

Melody told us “ not only is FWM a great cause, but my own religious beliefs and those of FWM are totally in sync, which is why FWM is the most perfect fit for me and my business”.

Melody also shared with us that considering physical therapy and wheelchairs go together, it feels even more perfect to promote FWM at her clinic. She states it perfectly, “Its a no brainer!”

Melody isn’t just stopping at donating on her patients behalf and sharing about FWM at her clinic, she is also hoping to arrange a fundraising group in the next year or two and have them all compete together at the Run for Mobility! Run, Team Melody, Run!

Thank you Melody, from the bottom of our hearts. You are doing something so cool and your heart and passion for our mission is inspiring to us on here on staff, and hopefully to each one of our readers!


Free Wheelchair Mission Wins Orange County Nonprofit Award!

Coast Magazine resurrects its awards to philanthropic individuals and organizations honoring them for their contributions to the community during their awards ceremony at AnQi Bistro in South Coast Plaza.

In February, Free Wheelchair Mission had the honor of taking home the award for the Top Orange County Nonprofit at the second annual OC Coast Magazine Community Awards!

We were one of 48 finalists that were split up over 12 categories. The categories included nonprofits, volunteers, health organizations, businesses, arts organizations, education institutions, individuals and more.

Don Schoendorfer, our founder, received the award that night and later said “We are blessed and honored to be named Top Nonprofit. It is such an honor and we are thankful to be recognized as such.”

We are excited to receive this award and the entire staff is appreciative to the  OC Coast Magazine Community Awards committee that picked our organization!

Don stated, “[We] are so dedicated to transforming the lives of the disabled poor in developing countries with the gift of mobility; and this award is a testament to that dedication.” and the staff here at Free Wheelchair Mission, couldn’t agree more.