“It’s our job as a society to show kindness.” – Donald Yarborough
How it started
Donald Yarborough is a U.S. veteran with a 100% service-connected disability. Approximately six years ago, he was at the VA for an appointment when he noticed a man with a single, discrete tear escaping from his eye. Don told his wife he wanted to go back to speak to him when his appointment was complete. When Don spoke to the man, he told Don that the VA denied the vet new equipment because his leg injury was not directly service related. However, shoulder problems were making the use of a manual wheelchair impossible. With no funds to purchase his own equipment, this vet was facing a lifetime of immobility.
The Call to Action
Something in Don compelled him to help his fellow vet. He had a broken electric wheelchair in his garage which he repaired and purchased a new battery for with his own funds. The gratitude the vet showed was all it took to inspire Don and his wife Tanya to commit to giving out four chairs a year and the nonprofit Veterans Helping Veterans Helping Community was created. Six years later, over 600 pieces of equipment have been given to recipients and another 3,000 plus have been repaired. Recipients are not required to be veterans and can be of any age. One little girl declared that the chair and scooter she received through Veterans Helping Veterans were “more fun than Disney World!” “It’s a great feeling,” said Yarborough.
The Dream Shop
Don is up by five A.M. most days and headed to “The Dream Shop – Making Dreams Come True One Person at a Time,” a 2,000 square foot facility where the work happens. He dedicates seven days a week to refurbishing equipment and traveling around central Illinois to pick up and deliver equipment to those who would not otherwise have access to a needed mobility device. Wheelchairs and scooters in various states of disrepair are donated and are taken to the Dream Shop to be repaired and refurbished. They are thoroughly cleaned and broken parts replaced, the largest expense generally being the replacement of batteries. Don’s wife, Tanya takes care of the business end of the program but can also be seen traveling right alongside her husband.
On November 8, 2019, Don became a Red Cross Hero when he was presented the Michael A. McCord Good Samaritan Hero Award. This good citizen award is presented to an individual or group who make the community a better place to live.
Don is also extremely moved to have been chosen to receive the Meritorious Service Award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars. This honor is rarely bestowed making this an especially meaningful award. The award was presented to him on October 1, 2021 for upholding the highest traditions of the VFW.
How IATP is involved…
IATP collects electric wheelchairs and scooters donated by those who no longer have a need for them. IATP does not exchange or process items with complex seating that we are unable to evaluate and repair. Instead, we pass that equipment on to Don who gives them a renewed life to assist someone in need. Our small part in supporting this amazing program is just one of the many ways IATP reaches out to better the lives of the people in our communities.
How to contact Veterans Helping Veterans Helping the Community
Donald and Tayna Yarborough, President and Vice President
Facebook page “Veterans Helping Veterans Helping the Community”