In a joint project of the Rotary Club of Chapala Sunrise, Foodbank Lakeside, 20 new wheelchairs were distributed Friday, June 18, to deserving recipients in a ceremony at Palapa Don Juan in Chapala. The chairs were provided by Chair the Love, a Florida-based charity that operates worldwide distributing wheelchairs and other mobility devices to disabled people in need.
“We are so happy to be here in Chapala, working with the Chapala Sunrise Rotary and Foodbank Lakeside to find recipients for chairs. Every chair we donate helps not only the person who receives it but their family and caregivers – multiplying the impact. There are so many stories here of people who are deserving and now will be able to experience the world in a new way”, Chair the Love Founder Glen Mather told Laguna
The ceremony was filled with wheelchair recipients and their families and caregivers, officials from Chapala Sunrise Rotary including President Beca Pohland and incoming President Barb Wilson, and from Foodbank Lakeside including co-founders Paola de Watterlott and Christine Philipson, now a volunteer with the organization.
“ I was contacted by Suzi Lindeman of Rotary, last November, Philipson told Laguna, “ and she asked Foodbank Lakeside for help with this project because our intake process enables us to really know our people. We were given an opportunity to help our families and we know them extremely well, so we took the opportunity”, Philipson said.
Rotarian Susie Linderman interviewed and identified those most in need. Recipients were of all ages, and each had a story. One of the most poignant was was Roberto Nuñez who has kidney failure, heart problems, swollen legs & feet, and can barely walk. This is his first wheelchair enabling him to sit up ad move around for the first time in years.
I’ve lived in Chapala for over 60 years, and this is the first time in five years that I’ve been able to get outside to see my beloved lake … I’m surprised to see the water level so low. But I am so happy to see it, always so beautiful,” he said.
The Rotary Club of Chapala Sunrise has a long history of charitable projects in the area including Save a Future with Education to underwrite the cost of education for poor families. Foodbank Lakeside was created in 2020 in response to the hardships many families were experiencing because of Covid restrictions and has distributed over 12,000 food baskets, and currently feeds over 700 families each month.
Chair the Love was founded 12 years ago when Glen Mather was invited to Mexico City as part of a wheelchair distribution project and saw the need for chairs and the joy their delivery generated. Since then, Chair the Love has distributed over 4000 chairs and wheelchair ramps around the world, including an entire shipping container of wheelchairs in Guadalajara last year.