The Fermanian School of Business Launches a Partnership with Free Wheelchair Mission

Photo credit to Caitlin Callahan

Point Loma Nazarene University’s Fermanian School of Business (FSB) launched a partnership with the nonprofit Free Wheelchair Mission at an event on Tuesday, Sept. 26, in the Fermanian Conference Center.

This new partnership will give students in six PLNU clubs the opportunity to work with a global organization. Students not involved with the six clubs can also participate but in different ways, according to Randy Waynick, assistant dean of the FSB.

The clubs partnering with Free Wheelchair Mission include the Finance and Investment Society, the Management and Leadership Club, the Marketing Club, the Microfinance Club, the Student Accounting Society and Enactus.

These six clubs “have faculty from the business school as advisors and are directly related to the majors that we offer,” Waynick said.

According to Waynick, this school year marks the first time the clubs are partnering with Free Wheelchair Mission.

Free Wheelchair Mission is a nonprofit based in Irvine, California. It was founded by Don Schoendorfer, and its current CEO is Nuka Solomon.

“We are motivated by Jesus Christ to give as many wheelchairs as possible all over the world to the poor,” Solomon said. 

She said that their nonprofit gives wheelchairs to “under-resourced countries, to people who don’t have any other way to get them.”

“The reason is because there is an estimate from the World Health Organization that there are 80 million people that need a wheelchair,” Solomon said. “And the vast majority [of people] cannot get one. We want to reach as many of those individuals as possible so we produce wheelchairs that are brand new, and we distribute them to the poor.”

Nuka Solomon spoke at the launch event, sharing her own personal story and how she came to be the CEO of the nonprofit. In her presentation, she told students that, though they may have life plans, God has a bigger plan for them, and that plan will involve their talents and skills.

Solomon said that through the partnership, the involved clubs would help Free Wheelchair Mission reach its goal of providing another 1 million wheelchairs to people around the globe.

Waynick further explained how the partnership would affect students.

“The clubs are going to get hands-on experience in their majors,” Waynick said. For example, he said that the Finance and Investment Society would be working with Free Wheelchair Mission to record donation information.

“The students are going to get this sort of real-world exposure — they’re going to be doing good,” Waynick said.

He also said that professors will be incorporating project-related issues into coursework.

“It’s a real combination of theory and application,” Waynick said, noting both the classroom integration and real-world experience.

Cheryl Kreckman, a student who is getting a Master’s in Organizational Leadership, attended the launch event.

She called the partnership “fantastic,” saying that it would “expose business students” to the responsibilities of a real organization.

“How can you hear something like for $100 you can change someone’s life like this — a whole family’s life — and not be excited?” Kreckman said.

Waynick and the business school are looking for ways to incorporate master’s students into the program. He gave the possibility that these students may be able to participate informally for this year’s project. Waynick and others in the school of business are “discussing the opportunity” of creating a parallel project for their graduate studies and adult degree students in the years ahead.

Though not in the same way as students in the six clubs, other PLNU students can still get involved in supporting Free Wheelchair Mission, according to Waynick.

“Purpose into practice is not limited to the business school,” Waynick said. “There’s absolutely going to be no shortage of opportunities for these students to participate in this sort of the fundraising.”

The fundraising Waynick described involved hands-on activities. He gave a few examples from last year’s project: a farmer’s market/craft fair event and a “letters to home” event where students could mail letters to family and friends in their hometowns for a small fee. But this year’s events have not been determined yet.

“You’re not just giving money,” Waynick said. “You’re getting something for it.”

Waynick also encouraged PLNU students who believe in the cause of Free Wheelchair Mission to share that cause with others, like friends and family, or on social media.

“The strength in numbers — that’s how all of Point Loma can be involved,” Waynick said.