The Power of Collaboration

Yesterday Harold received a gently used power wheelchair that in the words of his daughter, " Will greatly improve his independence." 

This placement is an excellent example of the hard work and collaboration that goes on behind the scenes before we even show up to deliver a new wheelchair.


Susan Woolner from the Mercy Health Hauenstein Neuroscience Center, asked if we could assist with providing a wheelchair for an ALS Patient in Traverse City. We began looking at our inventory of used power wheelchairs in order to identify a chair that had the seating functions and capabilities to meet Harold's specific medical needs. 


As is the case with the majority of our wheelchairs, we received a donation of a gently used Quantum power wheelchair from a family that had recently lost a loved one. Many of these families contact Alternatives in Motion because they are looking for a way to pass along this equipment so others can enjoy the same freedom and independence their own loved ones once did. Accepting donations from grieving family members can be difficult but we take great pride in the opportunity we have to pass these gifts on to others. 


Our longtime partnership with Carelinc Home Medical also played an important role in this placement. Carelinc took the lead on picking up the donated wheelchair in South Western MI and getting it to Grand Rapids where we could begin the refurbishment process. After cleaning and refurbishing the wheelchair we ran into some significant technical difficulties that threatened to delay the delivery. Lloyd and Bill over at the Carelinc rehab department went above and beyond to help diagnose the issues in a timely fashion so we could deliver a product that was specifically programed with Harold's safety in mind. 


Yesterday with the help of John Kamsickas, long time Alternatives in Motion volunteer and certified Assistive Technology Professional (ATP), we loaded the Alternatives in Motion van and headed north. We met Harold, his two daughters, and a granddaughter at his room and they were instantly amazed with this new piece of equipment. After a brief training Harold was independently driving down the halls of his care facility and their was an obvious sense of relief from his daughters who had been worrying about their dad's safety. Late last night I sent Susan a picture of Harold in his new chair. Susan's response was, "Thank you so much for all your hard work Matt. Harold's face tells me everything I need to know."


I also have to point out the important role our donors play in these placements. This placement probably would not have been possible had it not been for the Jamo Family that donated a handicap accessible van to Alternatives in Motion in 2012. The generosity of the individuals, students, corporations, and foundations that provide additional support give us the precious financial resources we need to operate on a daily basis. 


When all of these pieces come together, simply saying thank you doesn't seem like enough. The smile on Harold's face says it all though. That's the smile of independence! 




When Charity Comes Full Circle

Since starting at Alternatives in Motion in 2006,  I have had the opportunity to give wheelchairs to over 620 individuals and families. The first time you give someone the gift of mobility is an experience that sticks with you. However, like too many things in life, it is easy to get into a routine and forget just how precious this gift truly is. 

Nothing snaps our staff and board back to this important reality more than a gift of support from one of our wheelchair recipients. For many of our recipients, “just getting by” is an understatement. Many are unable to work and rely on a fixed monthly income. When food prices or rent goes up paying the bills becomes even more challenging. 

So when a recipient appreciates our services enough to scrape up a few extra dollars, their kindness does not go unnoticed. We have received checks from recipients for $5.00 with the words “Thank You” written in the memo line. 

One recipient in Northern MI loyally sends a donation check every few months. This individual, who asked us to not use her name or picture, lives on a small farm and received a power wheelchair from her insurance company. Unfortunately the chair she qualified for was not durable enough for her to continue her daily activities of raising her chickens and working in the garden. We provided a rugged power wheelchair so she is able to get around her property and take care of her farm. She even purchased a cow this spring and sent pictures of her new friend with her last donation check. My wife and I had the opportunity to stop and visit this individual on one of our weekend trips up north. She was so thankful and appreciative of the chair that she proudly took us on a tour of the farm. She even sent us home with a dozen eggs and some zucchini from her garden, harvested fresh that morning of course.

Having been to her home and listening to her story for a few hours, it was clear that she was indeed “just getting by.” That’s why I was so surprised when we received the first donation check from her. Then a second, a third, a fourth, and now in just over two years she has made 15 donations!

Opening a donation check from a wheelchair recipient is no doubt the most rewarding part of this job. Many times these donations are small. They aren’t going to pay the rent bill or even pay to fill up the tank of our delivery van. That doesn’t matter though, these donations are priceless! 

Watching charity come full circle is a heartwarming experience. These donations inspire us to share our story, to help more people, and most importantly remind us to never take our own mobility and independence for granted. Thank you to everyone who has helped us Move People Forward over the years. We couldn’t do it without our loyal donors and supporters! 




Please help us Move People Forward, by making a tax-deductible donation today!


Bringing Back the Blog!

Greetings and Happy July!  

It’s hard to believe the first half of 2013 is already behind us. So far this year we have provided mobility assistance 64 times. We have placed 36 pieces of mobility equipment valued at $140,495, and have assisted 57 individuals and families. We have also accepted $177,488 worth of in-kind mobility equipment donations. WOW!


Over the last six months our staff and Board of Directors have been working together to strengthen the mission of Alternatives in Motion in an effort to create long-term sustainability. We are excited to share more with you as we look to better use our website, blog, and social media outlets. (Bear with us as we try to keep up with the ever changing demands of e-marketing & social networking)


We remain focused on providing mobility and independence and I am proud of our small staff (2 people) and Board of Directors (9 Volunteers) for working together to build a strong future for this organization. Most importantly, we are extremely grateful for the generous donors that support our mission with their hard-earned donation dollars and gifts of mobility equipment. It is because of this generosity we can proudly say we have provided mobility assistance over 1,254 times since 1995! 


The remainder of 2013 is going to be busy as we gear up for the 10th Annual Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon on October 20 and the 2nd Annual A.I.M. High Endurance Awards on November 7. These are two of our largest annual fundraising events and we encourage everyone to participate. Stay tuned as we will highlight these events, and share ways to get involved, in future posts.


Thank you to our past, present, and future donors. With your support we are changing lives and promoting independence!


Matt Chapman 

Interim Executive Director 


Please help us Move People Forward, by making a tax-deductible donation today!


Alternatives in Motion Receives $600 Donation from Hurt The Dirt

July 26, 2012

Yesterday Mark VanTongeren from Michigan Adventure Racing stopped by the office to give Alternatives in Motion a $600 donation. This donation was made possible by the proceeds from the Hurt The Dirt trail run that took place on June 16th at Seidman Park in Ada, Mi. 


Alternatives in Motion has a long history of working with endurance events as a charity partner. We love these types of events because they teach people the importance of being active and they promote healthy lifestyles. Mark and his crew are the organizers of other successful events like The Zombie Dash and the GR Urban Adventure Race, all of which contribute to local charities in some way. Be sure to visit their website at and sign up for one of their upcoming events. 


We’d like to say thanks to Mark for this donation and for the opportunity to participate in this great event. Special thanks to our friends Don Kern, Francine Robinson, George & Gail Ranville, Nancy Willemstein, Mary Kamsickas, Jamie Crosby, Erika Chapman, and Kurt Spieker for volunteering at Hurt The Dirt on behalf of Alternatives in Motion.

Together we are Moving People Forward! 


Matt Chapman 

Director of Marketing & Special





Lawrence Hoover

July 20, 2012

The short trip north on US 131 to the Pierson exit from downtown Grand Rapids only took about 45 minutes in our delivery van. But that short trip will mean a lot of freedom for Lawrence Hoover. His house is already totally accessible with wheelchair ramps on the front and back. Now with the help of this wheelchair delivered on a hot sunny day, he will be able to get outside and enjoy summer.  

George Ranville
Executive Director





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