The Westchester Medical Equipment Closet recently settled into its first
permanent quarters, and is now seeking community support to expand.
Closet, which loans out medical related equipment and is run solely by
volunteers, now has set hours -- every Tuesday from 1 to 3:45 p.m. --- at
the Duneland Community Center, which also houses the Duneland Resale Shop
and the Westchester Neighbors Food Pantry.
Natalie Halpin said the group is now looking for a few additional volunteers
so that it can open on Friday afternoons as well.
Medical Closet was founded by Joan Knibbs and exclusively serves residents
of Westchester, Liberty, Jackson and Pine townships in need of equipment
like wheelchairs, commodes, and crutches. Over the years, Knibbs ran the
nonprofit from her home, her garage and a storage unit. As Knibbs recalled,
whenever someone called, she would meet with them and get them the item
needed on demand.
But with the
recent move to 801 Broadway, the Medical Closet has the ability to hold set
hours, which it hasnít been able to do before.
The move has
been in the works for months, as the Medical Closet finalized its lease. Its
sponsor, Porter United Methodist Church, recently renewed its affiliation
with the Medical Closet after finalizing liability coverage issues.
The Closet also
enlisted volunteer help from Troop 908 Scout Tom McGue, who as part of his
Eagle Scout project, put up shelving, designed the office space, and helped
move the items from the storage shed. The Closet officially opened at its
new home on Oct. 4.
Halpin said the
Closet has about 600 items that it loans free of charge. The items are
definitely put to good use: About half of the items are currently out on
loan. The Closet loans the items at no charge, with the request that the
items are returned in good working order within 90 days.
that a wide variety of people are served by the Closet. Many people
recovering from an elective surgery donít have the insurance needed for a
wheelchair or other device, or they donít want to go through the insurance
hassles, especially if they need the equipment for only a short time. Some
people also call the Closet for equipment to have on hand when an aging
parent, friend or relative comes in for a visit.
Halpin said the
move to 801 Broadway has been a positive experience. She described the
Closetís situation as a ďcoming of age,Ē as it makes its transition from its
humble beginnings run solely by Knibbs at all hours of the day to a more
structured organization that has had to reckon with the realities of
liability insurance and the like.
established site and set hours also comes the need for more volunteers.
Closet ideally would like to have three additional volunteers so that it
could expand to Fridays while allowing the volunteers to rotate shifts. The
Closet now has four regular and two substitute volunteers. Halpin said new
volunteers would probably put in about one afternoon per month.
information or to volunteer, call Porter United Methodist Church at