Friends of Disabled Adults and Children Benefit

What better way to celebrate the new spring than by joining FODAC on their 3rd Annual Walk 'n' Roll benefiting people with disabilities. The 3k trek begins at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 26, 2003 beneath the beautiful visage of Stone Mountain rising gloriously to horizon view. It ends at the same place, FODAC's headquarters, 4900 Lewis Road, Stone Mountain, Georgia. Individuals and groups are invited to join others for this fun event including games, clowns, and a continental breakfast. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. For more information, visit www.fodac.org. or call 770-491-9014.
Since first beginning, FODA as it was called early on, has helped people in age range from 18 months to 103 years, find adapted technology or devices to simplify their lives or aid their quality of being in some way with little or no cost to themselves. Ed Butchart, retired from a 20 year career as a Marine for the United States of America and in 1978 took a position with a medical diagnostics company, selling products to people with disabilities. During his discussion with consumers, Ed noticed there to be a lack of specialized services that could meet the needs of people with disabilities in the community. So he started Friends of Disabled Adults in 1986 as part of the ministry of Mount Carmel Christian Church. FODA began in Ed's garage where he spent spare evenings refurbishing donated wheelchairs, and then passing them on to others who could still find use in them.

In spite of the fact that FODA assisted children, the name did not reflect that fact for many years until on June 1, 1997, FODA became Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC), which was a reflection of their desire to reach out to all people with disabilities, regardless of age. FODAC was created as a stand-alone Georgia non-profit entity on September 26, 1986 and began full-time service to the public on May 1, 1987, pledging thenceforward to work for the betterment of humanity. FODAC was ruled a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization on November 10, 1987 by the IRS.
On the 15th anniversary of the organization's existence, Ed Butchart named Chris Brand to succeed him as Executive Director. Mr. Brand had previously been employed as the organization's Deputy Director and had also served as Director of ReMount, which provides low cost vehicle modifications for persons with disabilities. I spoke with Chris to find out more about what FODAC did for the general public and how best the community might service them in aiding others.
FODAC is housed in a 64,800 square foot building in Stone Mountain, Georgia. To date, they have provided over 9,000 wheelchairs to people who may never have had the opportunity, insurance, or funding to afford one. FODAC has also been providing some durable medical equipment free of charge to people with disabilities for 17 years, reaching people in 35 states and 59 different countries. They have given away nearly $30 million dollars in medical equipment to over 40,000 people thus far.
The non-profit organization provides wheelchairs, disposable medical goods, and assists in home ramp, and vehicle modifications. FODAC is a registered 501(c)(3) organization with the state of Georgia and can provide receipts for tax write off. FODAC estimates that its services have saved taxpayers modestly over $15 million in Georgia Medicaid funds. If not for the recycling and refurbishing of older, but still working good products by FODAC, Medicaid would have had to foot the bill buying new equipment for most of the stuff that was redistributed.

Zen: What is your mission statement?

Chris: Friends of Disabled Adults and Children exists to glorify God by enhancing the quality of life for people of all ages who have physical disabilities.


Zen: How do you feel about disability culture now as opposed to when you first joined FODAC?

Chris: Ever since I was a few months old, I grew up with a family (mostly in their house) who had a son with MD. We became best friends and I got to see him progress through his disease, it was not a pretty sight. I helped his dad lift and move him to and from the bed and bathroom. I also helped with restroom stops. I became his personal assistant in many ways through my high school years.

I continue to be very immersed in the disability culture and have always been. I don't see someone in a chair as being different at all. I have worked the MD telethons, and summer camps for years. I've been involved with vehicle conversion for years, and even worked as a PT aide for a couple of years. Coupled with my work at FODAC for over 5 years, I am more and more aware of every aspect of disability need.

Zen: Where do you see FODAC going in the near term future and are there any plans on starting up in other states?

Chris: Due to the economic downturn, we are currently trying to streamline costs. We have recently refinanced our building to help cut costs in that area. While we are not looking to open offices in other states, we are seeking funds for a project that would allow us to fly in people and train them to begin similar projects in their communities.

Zen: If someone wanted to donate, how could they best go about it?

Chris: If at all possible, it is best to bring the donation to our offices at 4900 Lewis Road in Stone Mountain as we only have one truck to cover the entire city. And yes receipts are written for items donated.

Zen: How long is the typical turn-around for a donated product?

Chris: If it is in working condition, the turn around is almost immediate. If it needs work, then it depends on how major the repairs are.

Zen: How can the public better support you in your efforts?

Chris: We always need three things: donations of equipment and items for our thrift store (such as household goods, clothing, and furniture), and prayer. We also accept car and truck donations.
People really need to see our facility to fully understand what we do. We encourage people to call us at 770-491-9014 to schedule a tour. We also depend heavily on volunteers to do everything from yard work to house cleaning to refurbishing wheelchairs to warehouse help.

Zen: How many employees do you have and which areas do you support with pick-up and deliveries?

Chris: We have 9 full-time and 4 part-time employees. Our pick up area includes the downtown area of Atlanta along with parts of the north and east side of the metro area. People can call 770-491-9014 to see if they are in the pick up area or wish to donate time in service.