Don Schoendorfer was a mechanical engineer, an inventor in high-tech southern California. He slowly came to realize that his money-oriented life was not helping the world very much. He was struck by a memory of a visit to a third-world country where a disabled woman without a wheelchair was dragging herself across the road. He set out to develop the least expensive way to mass-produce wheelchairs so he could give them away for free. Bicycle tires and lawn chairs became some of the essential components of his rig for his Free Wheelchair Mission. These wheelchairs can be produced for $41 U.S. each. His goal? To give away 20 million free wheelchairs over the next few years. He has given away well over one hundred thousand wheelchairs already, concentrating on nations where wheelchairs are simply not available for the disabled poor.
I first became aware of his work through a write-up in Reader's Digest some time back. Again, he challenges me to look ever harder for my niche to serve. Like others, he takes the question, "What can one person do?" and answers with his life.
Previous in the God's Love in Action series:
3A Bereavement Foundation
Houston's border angel and his "paper houses" ministry
Society of St. Andrew's gleaning network