The community has a wonderful resource in the Windham Loan Closet, which loans out medical equipment that might otherwise be difficult for people to get, like wheelchairs, transfer chairs, bathtub seats and toilet risers. Without this resource, someone on a limited income who is battling an illness or injury might have to go without these essential items if their insurance didn’t cover the cost of a purchase.
Currently, the closet has a need of its own – the need for borrowed items to be returned. Although there is no stated time limit on loans, coordinator Marilyn Roberge said that the intent is for the loans to be short term, not for an indefinite period of time.
Volunteers field many calls for items regularly, and when items are not returned in a timely fashion, they find themselves unable to help those in need. There is a waiting list for the loan of some items, Roberge said.
Although the closet receives a small stipend from the town to purchase equipment, they mainly rely on donations to keep the closet stocked. And they count on people bringing those donated items back.
There are many reasons why these items might not be returned in a timely manner, Roberge said.
Sometimes, people need them longer than anticipated. But more often, people just forget. Some things have been signed out for a few years, said Roberge.
Even when items are returned, it can be difficult to track where they came from. “People don’t realize they need to sign them back in,” said Roberge. If equipment is just dropped off at the closet when no volunteer is present or left at the town hall, no one knows where it came from, she said.
In addition to the larger equipment, the loan closet has items like dressings, adult diapers, blood pressure kits, and blood sugar kits that have been donated. Those items are given away, not loaned, when available.
While located in Windham, the closet is available to residents in Raymond and other surrounding areas. “If somebody needs something, we don’t care where they are from,” said Roberge.
Requests used to be filtered through the town office, but now the closet has a number of its own. The closet is not staffed regularly. Anyone with a health need in search of equipment can call the number (894-5999) and leave a message. A volunteer will return the call, determine if the equipment is available, and arrange a convenient time to meet up.
The Loan Closet is always accepting donations of items in good condition – particularly those larger items that are more difficult for individuals to purchase. The Windham Loan Closet is located at 221 Windham Center Road next to the Windham Public Library.