The Caring Closet at Hospice & Community Care is celebrating its one year anniversary this month. We recently had the opportunity to speak with a volunteer who has been with The Caring Closet since it opened in 2018.
“When I first started, prior to the opening, we were keying information into Asset Tiger, labeling equipment, and keying into the program. There was a lot of intensive labor getting everything ready, deciding where to put the equipment, and planning how to arrange things so we could access items easily. What we started with was a lot of canes, crutches, some wheelchairs, and quite a few folding walkers. We got all those tagged, and since that time we have been receiving donations of equipment.”
“What has happened is the word has spread through the community. More and more people are coming in to get items, and I try to pass the word onto everyone I know. We had one lady cry because we were able to help her get items for a family member. It was one of the best days I had working here because it meant so much to her to be able to help her loved one. She took two or three items. We hear so many moving stories as to how this program has helped others. One family, the husband needed to borrow a transport chair so his wife could attend a family reunion. It was going to be outside, and she couldn’t walk to get to the venue. Another family borrowed a transport chair so the grandmother could see her grandson’s graduation. It was incredibly moving to know that this helped make their lives easier.”
“It is not just a financial impact for these folks; it is clearly such an emotional response that we see and they are so grateful that we have this program available. Customers comment about how wonderful this is, how they just heard about it, and how it has helped. Often these folks don’t have the time to wait for insurance, or they can’t afford the equipment. We are also incredibly grateful for the donations we get. We try to spread the word that as families are cleaning out if they have useful, durable medical equipment, they can donate it, and it will be used to help others.”
“We have a regular group of volunteers here in The Caring Closet. We have grown together, we all know how to use the system, and it’s been a tremendous experience working with these folks. Hope Ruiz, Hospice’s lead staff member for the Caring Closet, has also been incredibly impactful, particularly with her gift for organizing. She keeps us informed and oversees the entire program. We also have a group of volunteers who help repair durable medical equipment. They can replace tires, replace armrests, fix cushions, or replace seats. It’s wonderful to have such an amazing group of volunteers, we call them The Gang, who are willing to return this equipment to working order so we can use it in The Caring Closet.”
“Interest from our communities has definitely peaked. We had one individual say just today that they heard about the Closet from the internet. The churches have been amazing for spreading the word. Sometimes people hear from a neighbor or friend. The greatest need for The Caring Closet is donations. We never know on any given Thursday, if we have wheelchairs or other items to loan. We might lend out all our wheelchairs but get three more back in donations. All of our donations are inspected, cleaned, and inventoried then before they can go into our program.”
“If anyone wants to help The Caring Closet, we can always use donations of durable medical equipment or financial donations. They can also volunteer their time with Hospice & Community Care and spread the word about what we do. We always need individuals who are willing to tell others about all the programs here and how we help our communities. I can personally attest to the work that they do here at Hospice & Community Care. I had two friends who died here, one at home and one in the Wayne T. Patrick Hospice House. And they had the best care. I witnessed the best care, the type of care I hope I get if I ever need it.”