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Local Disabled American Veterans chapter gives back
Area group working to distribute electric wheelchairs to residents in need
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Dan Sievright, a member of the Disabled American Veterans, talks Wednesday about the wheelchairs donated to give to those in the community who need help at a warehouse where the DAV is storing them. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Disabled American Veterans wheelchair initiative
To learn more about or help, call Sam Smith at 678-761-2330. Also, donations can be mailed to DAV Chapter 17, P.O. Box 6055, Gainesville, GA 30504.

Electric wheelchairs are scattered through an area of the Gainesville warehouse, some intact and some clearly needing parts.

But that’s OK by the Disabled American Veterans’ Gainesville-Hall Chapter 17.

The group is thankful to have the chairs and is working to get them all operating and to people — not just disabled vets — who need them.

“The more (wheelchairs) we get together, the more we get fixed, the more we can give out,” said Danny Sievwright, Chapter 17 junior vice commander.

Chapter 17 initially got four wheelchairs from Covington’s DAV chapter, which then helped Chapter 17 get 40 more from Drive Medical, a medical equipment distributor based in New York.

Drive “was closing one of (its) stores in South Carolina and, as result of that, they were going to give us all their wheelchairs,” said Samuel Smith, Chapter 17 commander.

They were originally told 28 would arrive in Gainesville, so DAV officials were pleasantly surprised when they pulled 40 from the delivery truck.

“About half of them were good to go,” Smith said.

Otherwise, the group has set about finding parts, including chargers and batteries. They’re hoping donations will help fill the void.

“And if people have electric wheelchairs sitting around, we’ll take them, too,” Sievwright said.

The group now is trying to find potential users who meet certain criteria. Churches and Legacy Link, the area’s agency on aging, will serve as key referral sources.

The wheelchairs are expensive on their own, estimated to cost anywhere between $2,000 and $15,000. The Marine Corps League is helping with storage.

DAV officials said they’re happy to distribute the devices, but they want wheelchair recipients to return them to the chapter once they’re no longer needed.

So far, the organization has distributed 13 wheelchairs total, included six from the Drive shipment.

One of the recipients is a very grateful Rosine Rosencrans of Lula.

“It’s a lifesaver,” she said. “I had a wheelchair, but the charger tore up on me and I couldn’t find a replacement.”

Her Legacy Link caseworker helped her find a new chair.

Rosencrans’ suffers from dire back problems.

“My doctor told me to think before I move because I could paralyze myself for life,” she said.

Thus, the chair has filled a need for the 73-year-old Army veteran, who served as a nurse at Fort Sam Houston Hospital in San Antonio from 1959 to 1962.

“It’s fantastic. It’s working great,” she said.

Smith said the DAV chapter works to help veterans in a variety of other ways, as well, including with rent and food. Since July 1, the start of the group’s fiscal year, the chapter has served 67 people, he said.

The group has helped with wheelchair ramps and replacing a roof on a disabled vet’s home, according to its February newsletter.

“We have replaced furnaces, water heaters, ceilings, doors and anything to help veterans,” the newsletter states.

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