The Windham Loan Closet with its crossed crutches on the outside wall is almost hidden next to the Windham Public Library, but inside the small building is a resource for residents and non-residents who need medical equipment and supplies during their recovery or during a prolonged illness.
Marilyn Roberge and seven other women from the area run the loan closet located at 221 Windham Center Road.
“We loan to anybody anywhere, from any town,” said Roberge.
The equipment inside varies from hospital beds and commodes to walkers and some medical supplies. The items can be borrowed at no expense for as long as a person needs it.
Most of the items they have been donated by locals who may have had a death in the family or a parent who moved into a nursing home and had equipment they needed to get rid of. The loan closet is the perfect spot to donate equipment and supplies that are in good condition. They are currently looking for unused supplies in good condition, such as tub benches, transfer wheelchairs, bed rails, grab bars for the shower and canes.
The loan closet was started by May Lunt many years ago. A local doctor saw a need for a place patients could borrow equipment for a short time and approached her.
The volunteers meet in the spring and fall to set up the closet and inventory what they have on hand. They are on call two weeks at a time, to open the closet when someone needs something. A person with a need calls the Windham Town Hall and gives their name and what they are looking for. The volunteer from the loan closet will call them back as soon as she can.
Residents are not the only ones who borrow from the loan closet. Children’s librarian Laurel Parker has a key she keeps for therapists to check out items they need for their clients, be it tub benches, 3-wheeled walkers, crutches or canes.
The closet is supported by the town with a modest stipend each year to buy items that the public asks for, like bed rails. The volunteers also use the money to purchase cleaning supplies because they clean each item after it is returned.
The loan closet has donations of adult incontinent briefs in size large, oxygen items and dressing supplies for wounds. They also have leg elevators, pillows and fleece mats. Some of the items are one of a kind at the loan closet and once they’re gone, people have to wait until another one is donated, like face masks, blood pressure cuffs and blood glucose monitors or scales.
One item they are in desperate need of is a vacuum cleaner. The one they have doesn’t work well and is very heavy, too heavy for many of the volunteers to use.
Roberge would like to see some improvements to the building like running water and having the building lowered to ground level.
There is no waiting list for supplies. It’s first come, first serve.
To get in touch with someone from the loan closet, call Windham Town Hall at 892-1907, Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.