By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Jean Adams understands illness. She was formally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a potentially disabling disease of the central nervous system, when she was 54-years-old. But, she noted, she’s “always been sick,” even as a youngster. So she understands illness, and need, more than many others.
Maybe that’s why, as she put it, “the Lord put it on (her) heart” to start an organization like the Health Equipment Loan Program (HELP). Technically HELP is exactly what the acronym says it is. It’s an organization founded and built around the needs of individuals who don’t have and can’t afford the necessary medical equipment that will allow them to function in their homes and in society. In some cases these are loans – like a wheelchair used to visit a doctor in another city or a walker or cane that can be used until an individual’s insurance program pays for the equipment they need. Other times those loans are permanent. It all depends on the need.
“Anything anyone needs, God’s already provided,” Jean’s husband Eddie explained. “We just need to connect the donations with the need.”
That’s exactly what the duo do. They take in donations that Eddie works to clean, sanitize and repair if necessary, then they store them until they encounter the need. For some items, like wheelchairs, Eddie explained, he keeps a rotating stock. When one comes back it goes into the barn until he can break it down, sanitize it and service it. Then, it’s placed in a box – as good as new – in a different storage building on the couple’s property waiting for the next recipient. The family has four outbuildings, in addition to the barn, all fully stocked with donated equipment and items.
Last week alone they accepted donations of four wheelchairs, five shower chairs, and two bedside commodes. Eddie said he enjoys the refurbishing work, because he gets to learn about new things.
“You have to learn about things, so you can repair and install them,” he explained. “And you learn about things you’ve never heard of before.”
Laughing, he added, “We go through a lot of bleach and a lot of WD40.”
It isn’t just equipment that the couple focus on, though. Jean explained that they’ve added things like adult diapers, food, and sterile single use items like catheters to their stock as they have been made available to them. To date, she said, they’ve helped a total of 445 people, but there is still a great need in the county.
“There is such a need,” she said. “Especially among the elderly. The social security check isn’t (enough).”
And private insurance doesn’t cover items like adult diapers. So, they work to fill that gap, along with providing nutritional supplements and non-perishable food items for those with a need. While some of the items they provide come from material donations, a lot more are purchased with cash donations they receive as a 501c3 non-profit. But since the pandemic shut things down, both cash donations and donations in kind have been down. That hasn’t stopped the Adams from continuing to help in any way they can, though. Jean said she is currently working to collect puzzles and word searches for those who are shut in, to keep their minds active. They’re also working with Silver Bells to put together other items and toiletries in “goodie bags” for distribution to the needy.
Though they are technically open Tuesday – Thursday, if they get a call for help or to offer a donation, they will usually take those. Especially if it’s a call for help, Jean said. Since she can’t get out to deliver when her husband is at work, due to her own health issues, they will schedule pick-ups for those who contact them outside of normal hours. To ask for assistance, or to volunteer your time, money, or other donation, you can reach the Adams at (606)474-6423.
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