Reviving Freedom: How Freedom Chairs Gives Wheelchairs a Second Home

By Tim Balz

Freedom Chairs is a non-profit that focuses on providing mobility equipment to those who can’t obtain it through standard channels. Some of the most common scenarios in which Freedom Chairs can help are:

      • An unexpected condition causes a rapid need for equipment and the insurance process has been started, but it will take a significant amount of time
      • Situations where people don’t have insurance
      • Equipment has been damaged and the timespan for repair is months
      • Short-term conditions such as surgeries

If you need a chair for these or other appropriate reasons, you can reach out via the contact form available on Freedom Chairs Website; and they will follow up to better understand your situation and determine how they may be able to help.

At Freedom Chairs, they are passionate about giving wheelchairs a second home and helping people in the process. With your help, they can refurbish gently used wheelchairs and provide them to individuals in need. However, they do have some requirements for donations to ensure that the wheelchairs will be able to have a second home.

Aaron, a Freedom Chairs client

Freedom Chairs can accept custom power wheelchairs (often called group 3 chairs) that are less than 5 years old and in working order, although good batteries are appreciated, but not required. They also accept generic power wheelchairs (often called group 1 or 2) that are a bit older if they are in good condition. They accept scooters of most ages in good condition and nice manual wheelchairs. Please note that they cannot accept wheelchairs that are damaged or in poor condition, as it can often be very difficult to obtain replacement parts other than wheels, motor brushes, hardware, or batteries without them costing more than the value of the chair.


If Freedom Chairs are unable to accept your wheelchair, there are other options available to you. Some metal recycling centers will accept wheelchairs for recycling. You can also consider posting your wheelchair for free on online marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Some individuals in your community may have the space to store or repair chairs, or you might even find a local high school that will use the motors and frame for a robot platform!

We understand that parting with a wheelchair can be emotional, especially if it was used by a loved one. However, donating your chair to Freedom Chairs or exploring other options for donation or disposal can help make a significant difference in the life of someone in need or at a minimum, reduce the negative environmental impact of disposal if the chair is past its useful service life.

Building Bridges: Servants at Work’s Corporate Team Building Program

Through our program, corporate teams have the opportunity to come together, roll up their sleeves, and build ramps for individuals facing mobility challenges. This hands-on experience fosters teamwork and camaraderie as well as promotes corporate social responsibility and a sense of fulfillment among participants. Over the years, SAWs has partnered with several corporations to build ramps, making a tangible difference in the lives of those in need.

Forging Strong Connections: Enhancing Impact through Corporate Partnerships

At SAWs, we believe in the power of partnerships. By joining forces with corporations who share our vision of building a more inclusive society, we can maximize our impact and reach even more individuals in need of mobility solutions. Through our corporate team building program, we have successfully collaborated with notable organizations, such as:


OrthoIndy has been a long-standing partner of SAWs, demonstrating unwavering commitment to community service. Their dedicated teams have volunteered their time, talent, and treasures to construct ramps, providing freedom and accessibility to individuals facing mobility challenges.

Rehab Medical

Rehab Medical is another corporate citizen that has embraced our team-building program. With their enthusiastic participation, we have been able to transform the lives of numerous individuals by constructing ramps tailored to their specific needs. This team championed SAWs’ 3000th ramp build in August 2021.


Salesforce understands the value of creating an inclusive environment for all. Through their involvement in our team building program, they have not only strengthened their internal bonds but have also made a significant impact on the lives of those in their local community. Salesforce employees are encouraged to look for opportunities to serve within the community and these employees are wonderful corporate ambassadors with servants’ hearts.

Measurable Impact and Lasting Relationships:

The impact of our corporate team-building program extends far beyond the physical construction of ramps. Through these partnerships, participating corporations witness firsthand the transformation that takes place in the lives of individuals and families who gain independence and accessibility. The program fosters a sense of fulfillment and pride among employees, leading to increased morale, team cohesion, and a shared sense of purpose.

Moreover, these collaborations often lay the foundation for lasting relationships between SAWs and the corporate world. Many corporations continue to support our mission beyond their initial involvement in the team-building program, furthering our ability to serve individuals with mobility challenges.

Servants at Work’s corporate team-building program serves as a bridge between the corporate world and the community, fostering teamwork, corporate social responsibility, and transformative impact. Through partnerships with corporations like OrthoIndy, Rehab Medical, and Salesforce, we have built ramps that have changed lives and created a more inclusive society. As we continue to forge new collaborations, we invite more corporations to join us in our mission to build freedom and make a lasting difference in the lives of those in need. Together, we can build bridges and create a world where everyone has equal access and opportunities.

AJ’s new ramp, thanks to ‘Send the Love’ donors

Wright ramp family and volunteers

Early Saturday morning, volunteers from Boone County, Indiana, including Zionsville Christian Church and Project Manager Larry Whinnery, arrived at the site.

5 year-old “AJ”, his dad George, mom Julie, brother George, and twin brothers (4 months old) were thrilled to see the volunteers, and AJ, as his dad said, had asked every day this week, wanting to know when SAWs was coming.

First order of business was to remove AJ’s existing ramp.  The ramp in place was a simple steep platform that had been sending the adventurous and energetic AJ into the street with velocity.  It was time for an upgrade.

AJ and his family got involved with the build. AJ loved using the impact driver, and George generously provided lunch for the crew.

After a long day of hard work, the family was left with a new 31-foot, ADA-compliant, wooden ramp that would help AJ safely get to the school bus, play outside, and ensure his parents that he could grow in independence without fear of falling off his ramp.

Wright family on their new rampAJ’s ramp was a gift from over 150 donors throughout Indiana.  In May, WTHR’s Send the Love with Scott Swan featured Servants at Work, Inc, and asked their viewers to donate $5 to help build a ramp.  The response was simply amazing.  Viewers gave from $5 to $500, and totaled $4,340, which was able to cover the costs of materials for this special ramp for AJ.

Read the WTHR article here:  Thorntown 5-year-old gets new wheelchair ramp, thanks to $5 donations.

Photo credit : Carolyn Case at Media37

Mike Thompson joins SAWs as new Executive Director

Mike Thompson

The Servants at Work (SAWs) board of directors has announced that D. Michael Thompson is the next Executive Director replacing the retiring Robert Richmond.

“I’m convinced that SAWs is the best kept nonprofit secret in Indiana, and I am here to change that,” states Thompson. Daily, I meet and speak with clients who have lost their mobility freedom. Many feel as if they are prisoners in their own homes. SAWs helps them regain their independence and quality of life by proving a wheelchair ramp no cost them. Having over 2,700 volunteers, 20 project managers, and a staff of 6, we are on track to build 400+ ramps in and around Indiana in 2022.

Mike is a graduate of Ball State University with a master’s degree in Public Affairs in Nonprofit Management from the Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He formerly worked with the Western Boone Education Foundation, the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI, and Habitat for Humanity of Boone County.

Mike joined the SAWs team in the Spring of 2022, taking over for the retired Bob Richmond. With over ten years of experience, he has worked and served with several Boone County nonprofits, including Boone County Habitat for Humanity, Western Boone Education Foundation, and Indiana University – Kelley School of Business. Mike also worked for thirteen years in product/design engineering for several automotive manufacturers and suppliers in Indiana and Ohio. Mike has been married to his wife Julie for twenty-five years, with two adult sons, they are members of St. Joseph Catholic Church, and he enjoys volunteering, tinkering, innovation, and being outside.



Welcome to SAWs!

We are very pleased to announce the addition of two new grant writers. Sarah will be joining SAWs through the Summer as an Intern. Jan has committed to volunteer her time to write grants. Both ladies will be working with the SAWs staff to fundraise and research and write grants. We are so excited to welcome them to the team!

Jan Hoffman
Jan graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a BA in English Literature. Jan enjoys offering her abilities in the arts, writing, and customer service to help others and to share the love of Jesus Christ. She spent the last three years volunteering for the Morgan County Farmers Market as a market manager and was board president for two years. Jan has been married to her husband, Zach, for 8 years and she homeschools their two young daughters in Martinsville.

Jan loves the SAWs mission because it models what Jesus came to do: to love, to serve, and to set people free. Jan looks forward to joining Servants at Work, inc. as a volunteer Grant Writer and seeing this mission lived out firsthand.

Sarah Billings
Sarah is excited to join SAW’s as a grant writer and fundraiser. After 18 years in management at Barnes and Noble, Sarah hopes to combine skills from retail customer service and business with nonprofit development. Currently pursuing her Masters in Philanthropic Studies at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy/IUPUI, Sarah shares homework with her 3 kids and enjoys reading, traveling and horseback riding.