Wheeling Along

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Delivering Wheelchairs In Vietnam

Sandy Quartuccio, bottom right, with a wheelchair recipient in Vietnam.

Sandy Quartuccio has always had a soft spot when it came to helping those in need. It’s the very reason why in 2009 she opened her own franchise of Right at Home in Hicksville.

The facility, at 14 Holman Blvd., provides senior care services in the comfort of wherever a senior in need calls home. Services range from companionship and homemaking to around-the-clock care and specialized care for those with mental or physical disabilities.

“As I’m getting older, I want to make sure that my time on the Earth was well-spent and that I did something meaningful for people,” Quartuccio said. “I was realizing that as people age, a lot of times they’re written off like they have no value anymore, so I really wanted to be able to give something to seniors that shows they are valued.”

In line with this personal mission to help those who need it most, when Quartuccio found out about Right At Home’s support of Free Wheelchair Mission (FWM), a California-based nonprofit organization that has delivered nearly one million wheelchairs to those with disabilities in developing countries, she jumped at the chance to go on a service trip.

Quartuccio, top right, with another Vietnamese wheelchair recipient.

In early November, Quartuccio hopped on a 16-hour flight to China, with a three-hour connecting flight to Vietnam where she would stay for a week assembling and distributing wheelchairs with FWM.

With her group of about a dozen members, each day was spent making the lives of Vietnamese people a bit brighter. The team woke up bright and early every morning to make multi-hour trips to recipients’ homes. Quartuccio spoke of living conditions consisting of just one room, a window and door—an experience that was both humbling and eye-opening.

Many of the people the team had the opportunity to meet spoke of tending rice fields when they sustained their injuries. Some folks were forced to become bed-bound or rely on their family members to assist them in everyday tasks. But, explained Quartuccio, despite their physical limitations and the environments they live in, “they’re very happy. They’re content. [There were] smiles especially on their faces when gave them wheelchairs.”

Families would offer the FWM team food and drinks and were always gracious and kind, Quartuccio said. Some even cried tears of joy at the prospect of owning a wheelchair and no longer having to watch life go by through window at home.

With her team, Quartuccio assembled and delivered wheelchairs to about 60 recipients and made both home and community center visits to give out the product.

“It feels good to know that some simple things can make such a difference to other people,” Quartuccio said. “It inspired me to just look at life differently. The simple things in life and the relationships they have with people are so important. Everybody’s dealing with something and we can all help each other out.”

For more information about Free Wheelchair Mission, visit www.freewheelchairmission.org.
What did you think of this article? Share your thoughts with me at aeichler@antonmediagroup.com.

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