Group that refurbishes power chairs for veterans needs help to repair roof

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IDAHO FALLS — After being asked to move out of a previous location and forced to work out of a storage unit that was later burglarized, the Veterans Mobility Corp is reaching out the community for help getting back on its feet.

“We had to kind of slow down — no place to work,” CEO Frank Smith says. “The community just stepped up, and they’ve given us donations and equipment and help.”

The community has been helpful in aiding the organization since a burglary setback in November. But the Veterans Mobility Corp, which refurbishes donated power chairs and gives them to veterans, spouses or children of veterans, has hit another rough patch, Smith says.

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“We ended up in the old market out here in Ucon, and we’ve had to do quite a bit of work to get things working to the point it is now,” he says.

Interior of the new Veterans Mobility Corp location in Ucon | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

Unfortunately, the property came with various issues.

“The building hasn’t been used for 15 years, and so there was a tremendous amount of pigeon waste inside,” Smith says.

Smith says he’s been hesitant to accept help from the community with the cleanup and move in because of the toxicity of the building. After almost six months of cleanup, the organization is getting closer to its goal of moving in, but the roof is in disrepair.

“We need help getting the roof done, so donations would certainly help with that,” Smith says. “We will be able to start doing stuff inside the building.”

Smith says the roof repairs will cost about $12,000.

“Ten years ago they started to put a roof on the building, and the contractor did about half of it and then walked off the job. What tin was placed has been blowing off,” Smith says.

The fabric covering the troublesome parts on the roof has started to blow off as well, he said. Also, the wooden part roof has been exposed, so it needs to be repaired, and a new roof put on top of that.

Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

Smith is hoping the community will rally around the organization’s efforts, and help raise funds toward a new roof for the building. He says the organization has been incapacitated for the last six months, and it’s only delivered a small number of chairs.

But, once it gets repairs done, the Veterans Mobility Corp’s work will speed up tremendously. He says once the building is ready, volunteers have more than 80 chairs to move into the building.

Smith’s says his vision for the building is that it will also be used as a recreation center for veterans as well.

Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

“They can hold things like family reunions, meetings, things like that,” Smith says. “We’ll have a sheltered place to work, we won’t have to keep moving stuff back and forth as we work on it.”

Smith and other volunteers have worked to repair and deliver 235 donated electric wheelchairs to those in need.

“The last two (deliveries) were to a Korean War vet and a World War II vet that was on Iwo Jima,” Smith says.

Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

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Smith says the waiting list for veterans in need continues to grow.

“Requests come in faster than we can turn them out because of the way we’re having to work,” Smith says.

To donate to the Veterans Mobility Corp, click here.

Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
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