IndependenceFirst announces merger with Wheelchair Recycling Program

IndependenceFirst has announced the creation of the IndependenceFirst Mobility Store, thanks to a merger between IndependenceFirst and the Wheelchair Recycling Program.

The store will operate as a program under IndependenceFirst, a Milwaukee-based nonprofit organization providing services and resources to people with disabilities, and will offer quality medical equipment to people with disabilities at a reduced cost.

“The primary purpose is to provide adaptive equipment resources to people with disabilities that otherwise may not be able to afford it,” said Lee Schulz, president and chief executive officer of IndependenceFirst.

The Wheelchair Recycling Program opened in Madison 20 years ago and established a second store in Milwaukee about nine years ago, Schulz said.

“We’ve been involved because a lot of the people we serve benefit from that program,” Schulz said. “So we’ve been supportive of (the Wheelchair Recycling Program) both as a resource and financially for probably the last eight years.”

The IndependenceFirst Mobility store will operate in both Milwaukee and Madison at the Wheelchair Recycling Program’s previous locations: 12040 W. Feerick St., Unit N in Wauwatosa and 2554 Advance Rd. in Madison.

The stores will be open to the general public but will target their services to adults and children with disabilities.

All donated devices will be refurbished and sanitized before being sold.

According to Schulz, the merger will also provide health care to employees of the mobility store. Under the Wheelchair Recycling Program, staff members did not have health benefits, which caused staff turnover issues.

“We’re hoping that the merger will provide some stable staffing, and that will benefit both the Milwaukee and the Madison store,” Schulz said.

IndependenceFirst offers direct services to about 8,000 people with disabilities in southeastern Wisconsin throughout the course of a year. Schulz said the merger will enhance the nonprofit’s comprehensive services to area residents with disabilities.

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