Published 12:00 am Friday, January 28, 2011

By Mark Wineka
Wheels? Check.
Seat? Check.
Washed? Check.
Inspected? Check.
Residents at the N.C. Lutheran Home who brought their wheelchairs into the Sam’s Chairwash Thursday got the works.
“My chair’s never been this clean,” Jane Gill said as she wheeled out of the activities room.
The first Chairwash took its cue from Sam and Joyce Allen, who live at the Trinity Oaks cottages nearby. Back in 1962, the couple started Sam’s Car Wash in Salisbury, and their sons, Glenn and Sammy, now run the Sam’s car washes and Kwik Lubes in Salisbury and Lexington, respectively.
Sam and Joyce provided T-shirts, gift certificates and goody bags for the Sam’s Chairwash and watched from the sidelines as an army of six volunteers and 10 staff members cleaned, oiled, repaired, inspected and tagged the wheelchairs coming in for the free maintenance.
“It’s a right good project,” Sam Allen said. “I didn’t think much of it when they first mentioned it.”
Activities Director Brenda Zimmerman says N.C. Lutheran Home Administrator Bill Johnson should receive credit for the idea, which probably will become a regular event, based on its success Thursday.
“This all started when Bill said we needed to do a wheelchair clinic,” Zimmerman recalled.
Each resident received invitations to “Get your ‘buggy’ sparkling clean.” When they registered at the door, they received a yellow checklist noting all the things that would be done with their wheelchairs while they waited.
Zimmerman said she and fellow Activities Director Lynn Barringer discussed what entertainment they should provide as the wheelchairs were worked on, but they discovered that the Chairwash was entertainment enough.
“The Clean Team” workers tackled each chair like those fast-paced teams who envelope a vehicle at Sam’s Car Wash. Also, in the maintenance corner, staff handled minor repairs for the wheelchairs, such as replacing arm rests, adjusting brakes, tightening screws and squirting in some oil where they could.
“We tried to make it a fun event, like Sam’s Car Wash,” Johnson said.Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.