An empty 53-foot semi-tractor trailer pulled up to a Chattanooga Goodwill warehouse one day in late September. Within a couple of hours, the truck pulled away bound for Rochester, NY, and eventually to villages and towns in western Ukraine. The semi was filled to the brim with lots of wheelchairs and a dozen large boxes of crutches, canes and more.

The medical equipment – more than 2000 pieces – was overstock from the Health Equipment Links Program services (HELPs), a program run by Chattanooga Goodwill. The truck was procured by the Cleveland Church of Evangelical Faith, a Slavic Pentecostal church that is located at 131 Baldwin St. SE, in Cleveland, TN.

The equipment will be distributed during a mission trip to the Eastern European country. The mammoth-sized donation was facilitated by Mikhail Beregovsky, a member of the church. Plans were for the truck to be driven to Rochester, NY, where its contents would be transferred to a shipping container, which would be loaded onto ocean-going vessel. Upon arrival in western Ukraine, the equipment would be delivered to churches throughout the country for further distribution to the elderly and others in need.

Mr. Beregovsky arrived in the United States 24 years ago and has lived in Cleveland for 13 years.  He said he learned of Goodwill’s medical equipment program through a fellow church member who received a wheelchair from HELPs.  He decided to contact David Carroll, HELPs Workshop Technician, about possible supplies for the upcoming mission trip.

The durable medical equipment program was the brainchild of local physical therapists Gigi Logan and Susie Thompson who in 2000 approached Chattanooga Goodwill with the idea of refurbishing medical equipment for people who otherwise could not afford it. Today, more than 5000 people throughout Chattanooga Goodwill’s 23 counties are assisted annually at no cost through HELPs

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