There's no question that wheelchair vans and other mobility equipment make a world of difference in the lives of people with disabilities.
However, unfortunately, for many individuals and families who have already spent significant money on medical expenses, the cost of a handicap van or power chair may be out of reach.
Remember - Loans must be repaid, but grant money does not!
Obtaining grant money takes significant effort on your part researching organizations that provide grant money, contacting the organizations, preparing and submitting applications in a timely manner and it doesn't happen overnight. The likelihood that any one granting organization will provide all the money required for you to purchase an adapted van is slim to none.
The good news?
You can apply for as many wheelchair van grants from as many foundations, non-profits and other organizations that provide money for people with disabilities as you can find and combine them for a single purchase. Here's how:
Preparation is key.
Have all your personal information ready to begin the application process. Typically, a granting organization will request your marital status, driver's license information, financial information, and background about the applicant. (Expect application requirements to differ slightly per each organization, so be sure to read the applications carefully.)
With your personal information neatly organized and at hand, transference to applications becomes much simpler.
It should be no surprise to you that virtually all grant providers at the state, regional, and federal levels, and private charities will ask you to submit your medical records. Ask your doctor(s) for copies. Also ask your doctor for a letter or recommendation, addressing it generically, like "To whom it may concern" or "Dear Madam" or "Dear Sir". Make several copies to have one available whenever you identify a grant opportunity.
Along with your medical records, reach out for references at least three. They might be colleagues, close friends, neighbors, church members and anyone else who will attest to your character and your disability, point to individual accomplishments they've personally witnessed, and discuss from their point of view how you deal with your disability.
An essential part of preparation to apply for a grant takes place on the Internet researching state, federal, and private organizations locally and nationally that provide grant money for mobility equipment. You might want to start with organizations that support your condition, like United Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The Veterans Administration and other US organizations provide grants for disabled veterans.
If you have a child with special needs, identify organizations that grant money specifically for children.
It's possible houses of worship in your community provide grant money to members of the community. Because you can combine grant money from several organizations, find as many potential granting sources as possible. (Consider hosting yard sale or car wash fundraisers while you're applying for grant money.
There are many ways to raise money for handicap vans and other mobility equipment, including wheelchair van conversions for your existing vehicle. If you don't get all you need through grants and fundraisers, a small loan to make up the difference is always an option.)
When you identify an organization that indicates a willingness to provide grant money for your purposes, read their web site carefully.
Find the name of the individual at that organization who handles the funding program. Every organization works differently. Some will assign you a project officer through whom you'll work, while others offer little assistance.
If you do obtain a contact, always be courteous and thank them for the time they spend with you. An open line of communication provides a platform for you to ask questions about the grant program and keep track of your application's status. If it's not on the web site, ask for their timeline for selecting the candidates who are eligible for the assistance opportunity.
Time to make yourself stand out!
On the application, you'll be asked to tell the grant provider your personal story particularly, the impact of your disability on your life.
Be absolutely honest, succinct, and passionate about your situation. Set yourself apart from other candidates with an inspirational story filled with emotion. If you need help with this, get it from a family member or friend.
There's another way to help you stand out from other candidates. Keep on top of your applications and their status.
You've already organized your handicap van grant application data to expedite your application process and, since you might be asked for it at any time, you'll have all your data near at hand for quick reference.
Show your dedication to your mission maintain a calendar to remember important deadlines and dates.
Be persistent and current with the status of your application so the funding organization knows you're determined and committed to obtaining their financial support.
Don't get discouraged, especially now that you know that getting grant money takes work and time. Stick with it, and won't be long before you're looking for wheelchair vans for sale.
The first time you take your mobility van for a spin, every moment of time and effort spent will be well worth it!
Susan Hawkins is a writer for AMSVans.com, which rents and sells wheelchair vans and all types of adapted vehicles online nationwide with a guaranteed low price on all newly converted AMS-brand wheelchair van models. AMS Vans also accepts trades and buys used wheelchair vans at competitive prices.