Fenton Twp. — What looks like a regular woodshop with retired men routing, drilling and painting wood pieces is part of a multi-city “assembly line” that will change lives in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
On Wednesday Nov. 6, volunteers from Fenton, Clarkston and other local areas settled in to work on what will eventually become the body of mobility pull carts for disabled people in third world countries.
This workshop at Price’s Airport is one of five locations that make these carts for Mobility Worldwide East Michigan. While they make the wood pieces in Fenton Township and Flushing, the metal frame is fabricated in Ypsilanti and White Lake Township. The final assembly happens in Marshall. Fundraising pies for this non-profit are baked in Goodrich.
Over the past decade or so, they’ve shipped 1,000 carts to 28 countries. These include Haiti, Vietnam, Ghana, Swaziland, Liberia and Zimbabwe.
President Jim McEwan said about 70 carts have been completed this year, and 28 are sitting waiting to be shipped.
The organization’s ranks are filled with mostly members of the United Methodist Church. “A need was found and people found a way how to meet it,” McEwan said when asked why the Methodist Church tackled this issue. “We rely on the idea of getting them from point A to point B and making it as easy as possible.”
This workshop started in Hadley with Ed Noll, who started the East Michigan affiliate. At age 94 after more than a decade of volunteering, he sold his property. His son Ric Noll and other volunteers sought a new workshop location.
Members of the Horizon Lakes Airpark including Cody Welch donated space at Price’s Airport along with material to renovate the space. Volunteers did the extensive renovation and repairs.
Ric Noll is site manager, and he helped keep things moving Wednesday. Some volunteers painted pieces while others contributed to the body or seat of the cart.
These carts are three-wheeled and are built for people who have survived polio, birth defects or losing limbs. The goal is to give these people dignity, an opportunity to work and a place in social life.
Noll said the international parent organization identifies recipients of these carts. The volunteers’ job is to build them, prep them for shipping and get the disassembled cart to the right port.
The other affiliates of the organization build carts for children and carts with a hand pedal system for those who are able to crank it themselves.
The carts are made with a steel frame and body of painted and sanded wood with a foam-padded seat, along with a handle and room for storage.
“A lot of people are living in very, very rough conditions,” Noll said. “These are made to withstand a lot of abuse.”
This is an all-volunteer non-profit organization. He said they can always use more help, more money for supplies and woodworking equipment. It costs approximately $300 to make each cart and it’s donated to the recipient.
If you’d like to help, you can call Noll at (810) 516-9828.