Bella’s Bumbas gets a boost

24 Sep

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I am tickled pink to tell you all about the latest good news from Webster’s very own Bella’s Bumbas, one of the most caring organizations I have ever known, run by two of the most caring individuals I have ever met.

I won’t go into much background into this great organization. You can read more about it in this blog I wrote back in 2017, and this follow-up blog earlier this year. But briefly, Bella’s Bumbas is a non-profit organization run by Webster residents Marty Parzynski and Rebecca Orr, dedicated to building miniature wheelchairs for children with a wide variety of mobility issues. In just their first year of operation, they shipped more than 300 “Bella’s Bumbas” around the world, often adapting the chairs for each child’s individual needs, and charging the families only for shipping.

Since starting Bellas Bumbas in 2017, the couple had been working out of their small Webster home. Rebecca handled the administrative chores on a laptop at their kitchen table, and Marty assembled the chairs in a cold, cramped workshop behind the garage, which doubled as storage for all the Bumba seats, wheels, platforms and hardware.

But thanks to the kindness of a friend, those days are finally behind them.

IMG_9386Last Saturday afternoon, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Bella, her family and  several volunteers, Marty and Rebecca celebrated the official opening of their brand new workshop. The new space is actually a house belonging to a longtime friend and Bella’s Bumbas volunteer.

“Miss Lee,” as Rebecca and Marty call her, is a 97-year old woman who has been helping the couple out since they began, folding brochures and informational materials which were sent out with each chair. Recently, she had to move from her home into assisted living. When she did, she offered the use of her house to Rebecca and Marty to use as Bella’s Bumbas’ center of operations, asking only a little bit of rent in return.

It took a couple of weeks to move all of the building equipment, supplies and inventory to the new workshop, but by last week everything had been schlepped, sorted and set up. The house’s kitchen is now a workshop, the dining room is inventory storage, and the living room is the shipping center.

It’s really a dream come true for Marty and Rebecca.

“We have room to function now,” Marty said. “When we built (the wheelchairs) before we had no place to put them but on the floor. Picture 15 Bumbas on the floor. You had to move everything to get to them. It was getting to be more and more effort. It’s still a huge effort, but it’s a little more effortless because we have the space.”

Production barely slowed down during the move. These days they’re shipping out 15 to 20 chairs every week, all over the world. This week they’re shipping ones to Malaysia and Indonesia.

The chairs have come a long way since the first Bella’s Bumba. The seats are much more supportive, the wheels bigger, and very often they’re adapted specifically for a child’s special needs. A recent model, for example, was for a child with no legs and only one arm with which to drive it. Another was for a child whose legs are frozen in a frog-like position and can’t fit in a regular seat. 

“So far every challenge we’ve been given, we’ve met,” Marty said. 

When Miss Lee offered them use of her house, Rebecca said “I was surprised but not surprised.” Apparently, only a month after they had created Bella’s Bumbas, Miss Lee told her about a dream she had had.

“She told me, I had a dream,” Rebecca said. “You guys would have a building, and someday I hope it’s my home.” 

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Miss Lee had another surprise for them. “I had another dream,” she said. “You’ll have a big building that will take care of everything —  workshops, all the things we need. Room to box it up.”

Let’s hope she’s right.

Here’s a short slideshow of photos from Bella’s Bumbas new space:

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Bella’s Bumbas could really use your help to continue their good work.

Since the organization officially began in early 2017, Marty and Rebecca have shipped almost 600 of the custom-made mini wheelchairs all around the world. Since they charge families only for shipping, they rely on donations of building and shipping supplies, and cash to purchase hardware. Now, even though the rent on their new workshop is reasonable, it means additional overhead.

There are several ways you can help.

  • Make a direct donation through the GoFundMe page;
  • If you do a lot of shopping on Amazon, you can select Bella’s Bumbas to receive a percentage of your purchase price through the AmazonSmile program.
  • Donate through PayPal
  • Donate shipping supplies
  • Send a check directly to Bella’s Bumbas, 1170 Ridge Road, #208, Webster, NY 14580
  • You can even buy some of the chairs for them. There are three different places you can get them: 1) This design from Kmart, 2) this other design from Kmart, and 3) this one at Amazon.com.

You can connect with Marty and Rebecca through the Bella’s Bumbas Facebook page if you’re not sure how to help or have any questions, or email bellasbumbas@gmail.com.

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