Mobility grant will go a long way

A $26,500 donation will help a Medford organization that focuses on the independence of wheelchair-bound clients to become self-sufficient.

Mobility Unlimited plans today to accept a check from James Collier, a 69-year-old resident of Rogue Valley Manor's Skyline Plaza. Collier is donating stock annuities, which Mobility Unlimited plans to invest with the goal of using interest income for its operations, said Executive Director Glory Cooper.

"It's our first ever endowment," Cooper said. "This will enable us to really grow."

Mobility Unlimited seeks grants to purchase motorized wheelchairs, scooters, vehicle hand controls, grab bars and wheelchair lifts and ramps with the goal of helping disabled people stay employed. Equipment recipients must be permanently physically disabled and working, in job training or in a secondary education program.

The six-year-old nonprofit group operates with two employees and served about 236 people who called its hot line last year, Cooper said.

While about 80 percent of Mobility Unlimited's $143,000 budget comes from private donations, the organization's policy stipulates that all those funds go toward client projects, making it difficult to pay operating expenses with grant awards, Cooper said.

Collier's gift is the first without any stipulations, she said. Mobility Unlimited plans on using it to bolster its education and outreach programs, she added.

Collier said he heard about Mobility Unlimited from a friend. Long a patron of the arts, he supports Rogue Valley Symphony, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Britt Festivals, the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater and other similar groups locally, as well as in California and in his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa.

His philanthropy most recently has benefitted public health programs such as Community Health Center, he said.

"There are real needs in the real world," said Collier, a retired English teacher who moved to Skyline Plaza four years ago from Delano, Calif.

For more information on Mobility Unlimited, call 618-9468 or visit the Web site

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail

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