IndependenceFirst Announces Merger with Wheelchair Recycling Program

Nov. 20, 2012

The leadership of IndependenceFirst and the Wheelchair Recycling Program (WRP) are pleased to announce their nonprofit merger. Effective immediately, both the Madison and Milwaukee Area Wheelchair Recycling Program stores will be doing business as the “IndependenceFirst Mobility Store” as a program addition for nonprofit IndependenceFirst. This new IndependenceFirst program provides like-new quality devices at affordable prices for adults and children with disabilities, including older adults with age-related disability, who require mobility or medical equipment.

“We have had a supportive relationship with the Wheelchair Recycling Program for several years and it seemed the right time to keep this program going and formally extend our program reach and offer enhancements with a merger/acquisition,” said IndependenceFirst Board Chair John Schmid. “The Board felt this was a natural move, in keeping with IndependenceFirst’s mission to assist people with disabilities to live independently, many of whom are on fixed incomes or unable otherwise to afford new durable medical equipment.” For IndependenceFirst, there is benefit in creating a full complement of direct services promoting community-based independent living for people with disabilities of all ages and adding a revenue stream from a resale retail program offering like-new, refurbished durable medical equipment for the Metro Milwaukee-based nonprofit. For WRP, the merger brings brand enhancement, a strong referral partner, financial stability and administrative support for efficiencies.

The IndependenceFirst Mobility Store will operate under this name change at existing stores in the Milwaukee area (12040 W. Feerick St., Unit N, Wauwatosa, WI 53222) and the Madison area (2554 Advance Rd., Madison, WI 53718). High quality, low cost, refurbished mobility and medical equipment are discounted 25-90% off new prices and sold primarily to those who lack the resources to acquire new equipment, though the store is open to the general public for any customer wishing to purchase lower cost, like-new items. The IndependenceFirst Mobility Store continues its preexisting relationship with Badger State Industries and the WI Department of Corrections which provides inmate job skills training through the refurbishment of donated equipment to like-new condition prior to resale. The program also has a training partnership with Invacare corporation ensuring quality refurbishment and has created a hospital-accreditation level sanitization process. Donated items provide donors with a tax deduction, items are reused and spared from landfills while 100% of the funds received for equipment are reinvested in the program, sustaining services. To celebrate, the IndependenceFirst Mobility Store Milwaukee area location, 12040 W. Feerick St., Unit N, Wauwatosa, will hold public open houses on Mondays from November 19th – December 17th 10-2pm in addition to regular business hours. On-line Mobility Store Catalog:

History of Wheelchair Recycling Program: The nonprofit was first established in Madison, Wisconsin in 1988 as an all-volunteer effort to send used medical equipment overseas. With serious needs in Wisconsin, WRP began to focus on providing services locally. In 2007, expansion continued with dedicated staff and an office in the Milwaukee area enabling WRP to offer its services across the state with the support of Independent Living Centers throughout Wisconsin. The program takes pride in assisting individuals to find the right piece of equipment so they can maintain their health, safety and continue to be independent. In just the past 2 years the program has diverted 160 tons of waste equipment from our landfills and provided over 2,800 consumers over 4,000 items.

About IndependenceFirst: Since 1979, this nonprofit has assisted people with disabilities of all ages to live independently with over 20 programs and services. Born out of the disability right movement, over 51% of its onsite staff, managers and Board have disabilities themselves. The organization has been deemed the “conscience of our community” by Department of Justice regional representatives related to issues of inclusion and access through its awareness-building and advocacy activities. An additional 1,600 personal care workers help people with disabilities with activities of daily living in their own homes, allowing them to live outside of nursing homes. With over 5,000 calls annually and comprehensive disability resources, they wish to be the community’s FIRST place to call with questions related to disability and access. For more on IndependenceFirst, visit or follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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