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Joni and Friends expands impact with opening of new wheelchair restoration center

KINGMAN – Joni and Friends, the international disability ministry founded by Joni Eareckson Tada, announces the opening of its newest Wheelchair Restoration Center, located in Kingman, AZ, at the Huachuca facility of the Kingman Correctional & Rehabilitation Facility (KCRF). The opening signifies the expansion of the Joni and Friends Wheels for the World™ program partnership with The GEO Group, the prison management company contracted with the Arizona Department of Corrections to operate KCRF. This expansion will increase the opportunity to provide mobility to people with disabilities in developing nations.

The launch of the new Wheelchair Restoration Center occurred on July 21, 2023. The center is positioned to make a profound impact with projections to restore approximately 480 wheelchairs within its first year. The program’s production is expected to broaden as its restoration efforts grow.

The Wheels for the World program provides inmates the opportunity to rebuild their confidence and self-worth while opening their hearts to the needs of others.

“The inmates benefit from the Wheels for the World program by seeing that their hard work is going to those in need and having a way to give back to others. The positive culture that is developed in the program creates a positive impact on the inmates and staff that interact with them daily,” said James M. Morrish, Deputy Warden, Huachuca Facility.

Inmates involved in wheelchair restoration have expressed their dedication to the program. They recognize that their efforts serve individuals in need around the world who would otherwise have no access to a mobility device. The program also provides an avenue for inmates to grow and develop trade skills, fostering personal rehabilitation and transformation.

The partnership between Joni and Friends and The GEO Group began in 2007 at the Rivers Correctional Institution in Winton, NC.

Since that time, the partnership has expanded to encompass the Taft Correctional Institution in Taft, CA, Kingman Correctional & Rehabilitation Facility in Kingman, AZ, and the Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs, NM. A remarkable 25,000 wheelchairs have been carefully restored and distributed through The GEO Group-operated correctional facilities, exemplifying the program’s incredible reach and impact.

Jason Holden, Senior Vice President of Operations, expressed gratitude for the continued partnership with The GEO Group. “Through this partnership, we are not only providing life-changing mobility but also fostering hope and self-worth in individuals who may have lost sight of their God-given potential. Together, we are breaking down barriers and building bridges toward a more inclusive and compassionate world. Joni and Friends and The GEO Group are excited to see the ripple effect of this partnership as it extends beyond prison walls, reaching individuals with disabilities in communities across the globe. This joint effort exemplifies the potential for transformation when organizations with complementary missions collaborate to bring about positive change,” said Holden.

The dedication of the Warden of the KCRF prison complex, Jeff Wrigley, has played a pivotal role in the success of the Wheels for the World wheelchair restoration programs. His committed support, dating back to the early 2000s, has been a cornerstone of the program’s impact. Under his leadership, several prisons across multiple states have partnered with Joni and Friends in their mission to provide mobility and hope, improving the lives of people living with disability.

As Joni and Friends and The GEO Group expand their programming at the Wheels for the World Restoration Center Huachuca, they are dedicated to providing transformation for people with disabilities around the world.

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