At , little miracles happen every day.
A child with cerebral palsy may be able to move again - with a wheelchair from FODAC. And he may be able to get to the doctor more easily - with a wheelchair lift attached to his family's van by FODAC. An elderly woman may be able to stay in her home - because of a walker provided by FODAC.
Stone Mountain-based FODAC takes donated medical equipment, refurbishes it and distributes it to people in need. Often financially disadvantaged because of their disabilities, FODAC clients can’t afford to buy the equipment, and frequently they have no insurance or their insurance doesn’t pay for the things they need.
Today, FODAC celebrates its 25th anniversary as a nonprofit. What began as a mom and pop operation now distributes more than 5,000 items per year -- and truckloads to disaster areas such as Haiti -- and it's looked up to more and more nationally as the model for reuse of medically durable equipment.
The goal, says Chris Brand, FODAC president and chief executive officer, is to help make disabled people "a viable part of the community."
It all started with Ed and Annie Butchart back in the 1980s. Ed was a medical equipment salesman who started repairing wheelchairs for people in need. Before long, their garage was covered with spare wheelchair parts. And it just snowballed.
Now the nonprofit partners with agencies throughout the U.S., and one goal among many is to increase partnerships with free clinics locally, to deliver catheters, bandages and more that are donated to FODAC.
“We’re really enjoying helping other agencies do more," Brand said.
At any given time, FODAC's warehouse has $5 million in inventory, with rows of wheelchairs, hospital mattresses, canes, walkers and more. There are cartons of adult diapers, catheters, bandages.
And think of the impact on the environment: The nonprofit recycles or reissues about 185 tons of equipment per year.
FODAC also runs an 11,000-square-foot thrift shop at its headquarters at 4900 Lewis Road, with some of the best bargains around.
Since Hurricane Katrina, FODAC has looked more and more at helping out during natural disasters. The organization sent six 52-foot trucks loaded with medical equipment to the Gulf region after the hurricanes, and six to Haiti after the earthquake.
The nonprofit now has a shelter emergency kit for the disabled at its warehouse, ready to go at a moment's notice.
“They’re setting the standards, forming the template,” for disaster response for the disabled, said Lizbeth Dison, director of corporate communications at Orotek, which is helping FODAC with brand recognition.
FODAC today will host a VIP reception and rededication of its newly renovated and expanded headquarters. A capital campaign allowed the organization to expand its offices, warehouse and thrift shop.
FODAC depends on donations to continue its work. You can donate money, medical equipment or thrift store items.