BEAVER COUNTY, Pa. -- A Beaver County paramedic who regularly gets called to help people in need felt called to assist in another way.
He decided to start a charity that provides used medical equipment after hearing one woman's exasperation over what to do with her dying mother's medical equipment and getting a call to help an elderly woman off the floor again because she couldn't afford a walker.
"I said, 'I wish I could give the old woman the other woman's number,' " said David McCormick, 52, a paramedic with Bridgewater-based Medic Rescue. "But I couldn't."
Instead, he and his wife, Amy, founded Recycled Mobility Products Inc., a nonprofit that refurbishes used medical equipment, from walkers and wheelchairs to hospital beds and stair lifts, then provides them free to people with needs but no means. The charity, which is not affiliated with Medic Rescue, will celebrate its one-year anniversary next month.
"We're here to provide an alternative source for people," David McCormick said. "We are here truly to help people who don't have other means."
To date, Recycled Mobility Products has accepted donations from 287 people, some of whom donated multiple items, including prosthetic limbs, canes and toilet accessories. So far, the organization has provided equipment to 300 people in 12 counties ? mostly Beaver, but also Allegheny, Butler, Lawrence, Mercer, Washington and Westmoreland counties, as well as counties in West Virginia and Ohio.
Walkers can cost $100 or more, and new wheelchairs can easily top $1,000. McCormick said one donor gave a specialized wheelchair worth more than $20,000.
The charity has more than 160 equipment requests yet to fulfill and 40 items now that could go to people if it had enough time or volunteers to get them ready.
"We would like to end up with locations in every county where people can drop off and pick up so we're more efficient and can help more people," said Amy McCormick, a teacher in Columbiana, Ohio.
Every item donated is sanitized, repaired and provided free. Items that cannot be repaired are recycled. Nothing is shipped overseas, David McCormick said.
"There is no doubt there is a need around the world," he said. "But there is a need right here."
The goal is to grow the charity to be able to afford four full-time administrative positions within two years. In addition to the McCormicks, other officers include general manager Keith Batchelor, a paramedic; and director of operations Mark Stanford, an EMT.
Within five years, the goal is for the charity to be statewide.
For now, though, operations are run out of the McCormicks' garage in Patterson Township and four storage units. They hope someone might donate a space large enough to house the entire operation ? and allow it to grow ? in exchange for a tax credit. The group continues to apply for grants to fund operations, growth and the roughly $1,000 per month that comes out of their pockets to cover overhead and gas for pick-ups and deliveries.
"We know we're doing the right thing here, and we know we'll get the help we need," David McCormick said. "We're not in this as a flash in the pan. We're trying to build a legacy."
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