Hope. It’s a powerful concept. One that motivates people to get up and go each day. A belief that something good is ahead—something worth working toward and living for. But what if you did not have hope for good things ahead? The thought is bleak.
Nathan Ogden faced the unsettling chance to see his life through the bleak lens of hopelessness when he learned that he would never be able to walk or even use his hands again. But Nathan chose a different approach. He chose to see his life through a lens of possibility—a lens of hope that he can progress and move forward in his life.
Nathan knows what it’s like to feel powerless, but he also knows that this mindset can be overcome. And the power to overcome such a bleak outlook is something he and his wife, Heather, know they can share with others. That is why they founded Chair The Hope, a nonprofit organization that delivers wheelchairs around the world.
People who experience paralysis are often accustomed to thinking in terms of can’t: “I can’t do this,” or “I can’t do that.” And sometimes that’s the message they get from their communities, too. But Nathan and Heather have found that when they bring a wheelchair to someone who needs it, they can bring another gift—a perspective of can. Heather says, “It’s not just a wheelchair that we’re giving these people. It’s a new way of thinking. It’s a new way of life.” With that new way of thinking comes hope. Hope in a future of possibility.
According to the organization’s website, over 100 million people are in need of wheelchairs. Seniya Dickinson, Nathan and Heather’s daughter, dedicates much of her time to coordinating the efforts of Chair The Hope. She says their mission is to “bring hope and mobility to God’s children around the world.”
One by one, Chair The Hope is delivering wheelchairs to people who need them, and one by one, Chair The Hope is empowering individuals to see their potential to make a mark in their communities. In Nathan’s words, “You just need to give them the right opportunity to allow them to succeed.”
Since the founding of Chair The Hope in 2018, the Ogden family has organized and completed many wheelchair distribution trips to several countries, including the Dominican Republic, Ghana, and Mexico.
During one trip to Mexico, Chair The Hope presented a wheelchair to Tonito, a young boy who could not get around by himself. In order for Tonito to get to school or doctor’s appointments, his mother had to carry him. But after Tonito received his wheelchair, everything became much easier for him and his family. He was also able to get more involved with his friends, and his performance in school even improved. Tonito’s world opened up for him in a new way, and now he has the chance to seize his possibilities.
Along with raising funds to distribute wheelchairs to economically disadvantaged communities, Chair The Hope has begun doing “mobility makeovers,” retrofitting homes in the United States with features to enhance accessibility.
For instance, in 2020, Chair The Hope joined with CBH Homes and several other companies to do a mobility makeover at the home of Tommy Marshall, a four-year-old with spina bifida. The team constructed wheelchair ramps, a deck, a pergola, and a concrete path to the backyard. According to Tommy’s mom, the transformation of their yard will help Tommy experience and enjoy his life instead of just witness it.
These incredible efforts to empower people to do what they can do certainly brings hope to the recipients of the chairs and the mobility makeovers. But the receivers of the gifts are not the only ones whose lives are brightened by the outreach of Chair The Hope. Seniya shared in a personal interview that her involvement with Chair The Hope has given her “such a different perspective of what’s important.” Unity with her family, sincere love for the individuals she’s met and served, and appreciation for the people and cultures of the world are three of the beautiful souvenirs she has collected from her trips with Chair The Hope. Perhaps the most significant treasure of all is that by being out there with the people, Seniya feels she comes closest to fulfilling her mission in life to serve like Jesus Christ.
Some of the volunteers at Chair The Hope have the title “hope dealer.” Their job is to travel around and deliver hope to people! What’s more epic than that? So, if you feel like you want to get involved, go for it! You can become an official “hope dealer” as part of the Chair The Hope team. “Contact us,” Seniya says. “We want everyone to be involved. We want to have everyone be with us.”
You can find Chair The Hope on most forms of social media, or you can contact the team using the information on their website, chairthehope.org. Who is behind the social media platforms? The Ogden family—Heather and the Ogden children. “We’re just a family that’s trying to do the right thing,” Seniya says. “We’re not some big corporation that’s not going to listen to you.” So, take the chance! Find out how to join the next humanitarian trip, volunteer on a local project, or simply donate funds to help make the dream of hope a reality for someone.
Hope is a gift that can’t be beat. Whether through Chair The Hope or another avenue, you can find a way to lift someone’s vision of who they can be.
Personal Interview with Seniya Dickinson, October 12, 2021