All members of the seating team offer great contributions to the success of our deployments. Everyone has vital skills to share to meet the goal of the right chair with the right fit.
That said, it is not anywhere near enjoyable to do large deployments without skilled techs to support therapists. One team I led had no techs and we were very lucky that local staff had skills to help us. The OT’s that went to Nepal did what we could but we would have given a great deal to have even just one of our techs with us!
We have had great support from many techs across the country. Anyone who knows him can appreciate the skills of Gilles Boudreau who has repeatedly supported so many seating trips. I believe if you gave that man a tennis ball and a tail pipe he could fashion a wheelchair of sorts. He has helped prep many techs over the years and teach them tips he has picked up along the way.
Darrell Mullen wowed us on a trip as did Brandon Strap and Teresa Pyren. I hope to lure them back one day. Kelly James, a.k.a Kelly Boy, was invaluable for several years in Haiti and Uganda. He is proof if you are clever and handy and open to learning you can pick up lots from our genius techs and adapt your skills. Surely he will join us again.
Along the way we have expanded some non-seating clinicians’ roles to help the techs as well as random people we meet along the way like engineers, photographers and motivational speakers! You may not all be named here, but know that we managed better because of you and I really appreciate your contributions.
There is one company though, that I feel needs to have a bit more time spent discussing their amazing contributions to Team Canada Healing Hands; Maximum Healthcare and Mobility Ltd in Calgary. Prior to my inaugural trip, Al Neary had been to Haiti so he knew what he was getting into when the call went out for techs. For every team I have organized since 2011 (1-2 per year) there has been at least one member of their staff on my teams. Owners, Tam Wishart and Al Neary, have committed large amounts of time and money covering their costs to be away to share their skills. Their amazing employee, Gary Schneider, has also worked tirelessly in hot conditions ready and more than able to help. I know when I am putting a team together I can count on at least one of them joining and supporting the team and that is such an amazing relief.
When TCHH was still gathering used wheelchairs in Canada and shipping them to Haiti we had a collection site in NB, my garage which replaced Colleen’s Barn, where my husband and I refurbished donated chairs for us to ship. So I have an appreciation for how much work goes into every chair. Tam and Al were doing the same thing in Calgary using valuable space in their business to refurbish and stow the chairs and then like me finding a company or volunteer to truck them to the airport to ship. The hours of work in that process were staggering in a busy people’s lives. We don’t ship chairs any longer, but they continue to collect seating products such as backs, cushions, and belts as do many of our volunteers.
Maximum Healthcare and Mobility surpasses all others most years in what they contribute to the equipment we haul with us.
It is astounding the amount of financial commitment this company has made to our teams and it will never be possible to measure what Tam, Al and Gary contribute in skill year after year. Their outstanding support, humor and compassion have changed lives around the world and from all the team members you have supported with your skills, I thank you. I thank you for all the people in so many countries that you have helped train to maintain and adjust chairs, from the one on one training that happens with locals on each trip to the tech training program we ran in Haiti one trip. I thank you as well for all the amazing things you have done to make the therapists’ visions of what a person could sit like, if only the chair could do this. Thank you from everyone at TCHH. I hope the seating team is lucky enough to say we will always have at least one of you with us wherever we travel in the world to put the right person, in the right chair with the right fit.