Helping the Disabled, One Invention at a Time

In this season of thanks and giving, Bill Deimling of Cincinnati considers himself one of the lucky ones. That's because he gets to give more than he receives.

Deimling, 72, is a cofounder of May We Help, a Cincinnati-based volunteer organization that creates custom-designed devices to help people with disabilities live more independently. The Army veteran and retired mold maker is clear about the group's mission: "We don't do home improvements — anybody can do that. And we don't make something that can be commercially bought. Everything we build, we invent."

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May We Help, established in 2005, is made up of more than 100 volunteers — engineers, handymen, builders, artists, techies and self-proclaimed tinkerers like Deimling who use their skills to enhance the daily lives of others. The group, which runs on donations from individuals, receives requests from across the country for assistive devices. The projects are divvied up among volunteers, who meet with the clients and try to come up with solutions to whatever challenge they face.

The organization does 10 projects a month — everything from building a custom-designed wheelchair for a boy so that he can shower independently to creating music stands for a pair of armless sisters so that they can play their beloved cellos with their feet. Deimling says up to 15 percent of the projects that May We Help takes on are music-related. As one who plays guitar and banjo, he understands the importance and place music has in many people's lives.

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Word about the group's good works has solved its initial problem of having too many volunteers and too few clients, Deimling says. Its goal now is to expand to other cities so that more people are helped, and Deimling is focusing on a plan to make that happen.

After all is said and done, nothing compares with the satisfaction felt after completing a project and presenting it to the client, Deimling says. "That's the only reason we do it," he says. "It's great. We do what we do for anybody. But when you do it for a kid, I think you get more out of it." That's because with kids, "You just see it."

Photo: Courtesy of May We Help

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