Engineering and Manufacturing Generosity

Selfless volunteers at a Cincinnati non-profit create and make free assistive devices for people with disabilities. To them, the season of giving has no end.

Columns From: 12/14/2012 Modern Machine Shop, ,

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Derek Korn

 As I write this, we’re in the heart of the holiday season. What I appreciate most about this time of the year is the way people focus more thoughtfully on the needs of others. That said, I recently learned about a Cincinnati engineering and manufacturing organization that selflessly concentrates on the wants and wishes of others all year long.

May We Help is a unique non-profit supported by 60 volunteers who apply their design and manufacturing know-how to make assistive devices for disabled children and adults at no cost to them. Numerous companies offer equipment to meet disabled people’s essential assistive needs. Instead, May We Help focuses on enhancing the enjoyment of people’s lives beyond the basics, enabling them to more effectively explore their passions and interests. To date, the organization has provided more than 120 devices, including such items as a modified bike for a boy with one leg and a stand to enable a girl with no arms to play a cello.

The organization was founded in 2006 after a series of chance meetings between engineers Bill Wood and Bill Sand, and injection molding business owner Bill Deimling. Mr. Wood passed away in 2010. However, his son, Chip, and the other Bills not only are looking to grow the organization’s volunteer base in Cincinnati, but are also hoping to establish locations in other areas of the country. In fact, May We Help recently hired its first two employees to assist in those efforts while managing the organization’s day-to-day responsibilities. Terry McManus is the executive director, and Chris Kubik serves as the liaison between volunteers and clients.

After a family contacts the organization, Mr. Kubik visits to take video of the disabled person’s situation and learn more about his or her particular desires. These videos are played for May We Help volunteers at monthly meetings so they can get a sense of the scope of each project. One volunteer will typically assume the lead role for each project, soliciting input from others who may have expertise in disciplines such as machining, fabricating, woodworking, electronics and even sewing. Each device is delivered to the client after a thorough cycle of design, manufacture, testing and refinement.

It’s obvious how May We Help’s clients benefit, and the organization may be the only philanthropic outlet of its kind that enables volunteers to apply their specific manufacturing skill or talent for such a good cause.

I wrote this to shine light on the organization and to encourage you to reach out if you feel you can assist May We Help in any way (read this blog entry to learn more about its needs). Besides, this organization is all about adding value, and that’s what machine shops do every day.

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