A small and very busy CHRISTUS Health clinic in southeast Houston achieved a great win for one patient during one of his routine visits. During his check-up, the patient asked his doctor where he could get spare parts for his wheelchair. He had been paralyzed from the waist down for many years due to a previous back injury. He lives an independent life, which includes driving his own car (with hand gears) and working full-time as a mechanic.
His chief vehicle to independence is his wheelchair. He uses it for daily mobility as well as for his job. And having used the same wheelchair for many years, it was beginning to wear out, or a more accurate term would be “fall apart”. His wheelchair was designed especially for paraplegic persons, lightweight, with many removable parts including foot rests, side arm rests and even the wheels. He takes the chair apart to place in his car and then reassembles it to use in getting around. So, replacing parts for it would be tricky.
“We told him we would do our best,” said Sister Rosanne Popp who is also a physician at CHRISTUS St. Mary clinic.
Sister Popp said it was a young computer-savvy medical assistant who began searching online to see what was available for this type of wheelchair. A new comparable wheelchair would cost $2,100, far beyond his or the clinic’s budget. But, this CHRISTUS Associate didn’t give up. She researched more and found a gentleman who lived in nearby Dickenson (which meant no fee for delivery!) who was selling the same model wheelchair as the patient’s current one, and only asking $500.
Sister Popp explained to us then how everything fell into place.
“The week before someone had left an envelope with $350 in my convent mailbox asking me to use the money for the poor; and someone else had given her $50.00 the same week. So since I now had $400.00, we asked the man if he would be willing to let us have the wheelchair for $400, which he did.”
Later that week, the man brought the wheelchair to Point of Light Clinic and they paid him the $400.
Now if you think that the man just happened to be selling the exact wheelchair that they needed and that someone just happened to give Sister Popp $400 the week before is pure coincidence Sister Popp says think again.
“I think a rereading of the biblical passages about the multiplication of wine and oil and bread to feed the hungry is in order,” said Sister Popp.
The group from St. Mary’s brought the chair to their clinic and cleaned it, oiled it and made it ready for their patient. He came to pick up his new (used) wheelchair a few days later and was delighted.
“He could not believe that we would do this for him and was already making plans to use the new wheelchair,” said Sister Popp. “We helped him put the chair in his car and he drove away with ability to continue living a life of independence and self sustainability.
And we, of course, continue to be amazed that God puts generous people in our path just when someone has a special need. And we thank God for them every day, because they are part of our mission and make our ministry possible.”