As a volunteer driver and deliveryman for the Al Boe Lions Wheelchair Warehouse, Darrell Dobson of Bellingham is on the road regularly, dropping off and picking up wheelchairs and other medical equipment at nursing homes, retirement residences and apartment complexes.
Under the volunteer program, Bellingham Central Lions Club members accept donated medical equipment, repair it if necessary, and then loan the equipment to people in need. Most of the equipment is loaned for free, but deposits are required for some items.
“There are so many people that are generous with their donations and can’t thank us enough for taking medical equipment off their hands,” Dobson says. “Then there are others that are so full of gratitude and appreciation to us for loaning equipment to them. I got a big hug this morning from one person, and our bulletin board is full of letters of thanks we’ve received at the Wheelchair Warehouse.”
Dobson, 80, has been an active volunteer the past 15 years, since he retired from roofing sales.
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“This has been a home for us volunteers,” he says.
It’s also a place that keeps him on his toes with its constant bustle of visitors and activity. What the warehouse needs most, he says, is more space and more volunteers. He looks around on a Monday as equipment comes and goes all morning long.
The warehouse at 4141 W. Maplewood Ave., Bellingham, is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Mondays and Thursdays, except on holidays.
“We could easily be open five days a week,” Dobson says.
The next day he knew he’d be back at the warehouse even though it was technically closed to the public.
“I’ve arranged to meet a man from Everson who is coming in for a power chair,” he says. “He came all this way looking for it, and I was really warmed by his affection for our Lions Club, so I don’t mind helping him out.”
“There’s no other place in Washington state where you can go for loaned medical equipment like ours,” Dobson adds with a hint of pride. “Sure, there are for-profit places. But nothing like what we have here.”