Charles City WWII veteran receives new mobility scooter
Word-of-mouth connects Charles City veteran to a Waverly non-profit in less than a week
By Travis Fischer, [email protected]
The power of word-of-mouth and the spirit of holiday generosity has given a World War II Charles City veteran something extra to be thankful for this week.
Marvin Emmel, age 98, uses a mobility scooter for help to get around, including so he can have morning coffee with his pals at the Hy-Vee across the street from his residence at Apple Valley Assisted Living.
But recently, his mobility scooter had broken down, and while he would likely qualify for help from the Veterans Administration, processing the request for a new scooter could take months.
Word of Emmel’s plight reached the ears of Jackie Hoggins, a former community relations chief for the Army who now lives in Plainfield and takes care of her veteran father in Nashua. Knowing how long it could take for the VA to get through its red tape, Hoggins decided to take matters into her own hands.
Setting up a GoFundMe page to raise money to purchase Emmel a brand new scooter, Hoggins spread the word out amongst her social circle looking for support.
What happened next turned out better than Hoggins could have expected.
Initially, Hoggins was looking to raise more than $1,000 to purchase a new scooter outright for Emmel. However, one of the donors for the GoFundMe told Hoggins about Restore Independent Mobility (RIM), a non-profit organization based in Waverly dedicated to connecting mobility devices with the people who need them.
Started nearly four years ago by Frank Zahn, RIM collects donated scooters and refurbishes them for new users.
“Usually it just needs power and new batteries and that’s about it,” said Zahn.
Zahn asks only for a minimal donation to cover the cost of the battery replacement and a promise that the scooter will be returned to RIM when it is no longer needed. Since getting started, they’ve given out about 30 to 40 scooters to people with all kinds of mobility issues, generally due to age or disability.
Hoggins got in touch with RIM and found out that they had recently gotten a scooter returned and it was ready to go out to a new user. In fact, that particular scooter happened to be the very first scooter RIM had ever distributed, and now it was ready to be used by someone new.
“Within three hours of contacting them we were on our way with a scooter for Marvin,” said Hoggins. “It’s a great resource for the community.”
In the span of a work week, Hoggins went from starting the GoFundMe to delivering Emmel a new scooter and see him take it for a spin up and down the halls.
“He had the biggest grin on his face,” said Hoggins. “It just warms your heart.”
Before the weekend was over, Hoggins’ revised GoFundMe hit its goal to cover RIM’s expenses, bringing the saga of the scooter to a speedy resolution. The experience was such a positive one that Hoggins said she is looking forward to joining RIM so she can connect them with more veterans in need.
“That’s the biggest thing. We can just cut through all the red tape and get it done,” said Hoggins. “I think the key is networking to get people to the people that can help them.”