SOUTH JORDAN, Utah – On a windy and cold November day, there was a feeling of winter in the air in South Jordan, Utah.
“Yeah, it’s really windy,” said Mohan Sudabattula with a laugh. “I was not hoping for this weather.”
However, with a U-Haul truck full to the brim, you can’t help but feel a sense of warmth.
“We collect gently used, durable medical equipment from patients who no longer need them,” Sudabattula said. “We clean them up, refurbish them and get them out to patients all around the world.”
Mohan Sudabattula started Project Embrace three years as a college sophomore.
“I got a lot of mixed reviews on the idea at first,” he said.
He’s still an undergrad and with his heavy course load, he also does some heavy lifting.
“My hands are already so raw,” he said as he examined his hands between moving medical equipment.
When we caught up with Project Embrace, the group of volunteers was gearing up for a delivery to the Navajo Nation.
“We’ve got great wheelchairs, canes and crutches,” volunteer Lexy Nestel said as she glanced over the mountain of donated equipment. “I believe health and wellness should be available to everyone.”
Back in March, Project Embrace was about to head to Seattle for a donation when COVID-19 hit hard. They put a pause on the project for a while, but then saw demand skyrocket
“With how overwhelmed the hospital systems are, you have people show up who need a walker or wheelchair but then have to wait days, sometimes weeks, in order to get that,” Sudabattula explained.
These days, their work includes three rounds of sanitizing even the tiniest of spaces found.
“Most people are going to be spending their time scrubbing,” Sudabattula said as he passed out toothbrushes to volunteers to clean in between screws on the medical equipment. “COVID has been awful, but at the same time, it’s really unified the community in wanting to support one another.”
Despite all the changes and uncertainty in the country, Sudabattula said their mission remains the same.
“You will find us wherever the most pressing need is,” he said.
No matter the temperature.