Sharon Taylor, Goodwill’s senior manager of business development, shared this personal and heartfelt story. Goodwill is proud to have partnered with the FREE Foundation for over ten years, providing durable medical equipment to individuals and caregivers throughout central and coastal Virginia.
The Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment Endowment, known as F.R.E.E., repairs, sanitizes and gifts gently used mobility related rehabilitative equipment to adults to improve independence and enhance the quality of life. When someone donates gently used equipment or money, this donation makes a difference in a person’s life by a) providing greater independence, b) decreasing falls, c) decreasing hospitalizations and d) increasing one’s ability to remain safely at home. Goodwill and F.R.E.E. have a strong partnership. Goodwill’s role is to provide equipment drop off locations (stores and attended donation centers) where persons in the communities we serve can donate medical equipment for use by F.R.E.E.
As the Goodwill liaison for F.R.E.E. for over 10 years, I have promoted this program and connected countless folks to this program. This February, the importance of this program hit home as I was responsible for the care of my 90-year-old dad. My personal experience really emphasized the importance of partnerships and immediate access to resources and information.
On February 24, 2018, my dad went to his heavenly home after spending nine days in my home while his primary caregivers, my sister and brother-in-law were in Florida celebrating their wedding anniversary and enjoying a well-deserved vacation. Although my dad had stayed with me before, this time proved more challenging. He needed more physical assistance from me and I was uncomfortable leaving him alone at my home. Although I had volunteer help and paid personnel at my home, I wanted my dad to be as independent as possible. After a conversation with Tracy Meador, the F.R.E.E. Manager of Operations, I realized having some adaptive equipment would improve his mobility, his independence and most importantly, his safety and my peace of mind.
After completing a short application, I obtained a raised toilet seat, a walker and a rollator. Although Daddy never got the opportunity to use the rollator, the raised toilet seat and the walker were invaluable. Seeing the difference this equipment made was like looking into the future. I realized how the movements we take for granted as a younger person can become more difficult as we age and also pose serious safety hazards. The guidance and support provided by Tracy, the easy application process, and the clean and appropriate equipment selected by Lisa Soto cost my dad absolutely nothing.
Words fail to convey the positive impact this program had for my dad and for me. Using this equipment made moving around easier for him and it gave me more time to sit and talk with him. Although my dad is no longer physically present, I will always have many memories of him and will always be grateful for how F.R.E.E. helped to make him more comfortable, independent and safe.