Following a cancer diagnosis in March, Sun City Anthem resident Michele Jim spent two weeks in a hospital receiving treatment. Upon her release, she could barely walk, she said.
To continue her life at home, she would need a wheelchair, a walker, a shower bench and an electric hospital bed.
“There’s no place really to rent that stuff either,” Jim said. “We found that out.”
That’s when a friend of hers called The Foundation Assisting Seniors, a nonprofit in Sun City Anthem. Co-founded by Favil West and Chuck Davis in 2002, the organization provides medical equipment, basic home maintenance, transportation and other services for seniors at no cost.
When Jim left the hospital in early April, every piece of medical equipment she needed had been delivered to her home by volunteers from the foundation, she said.
“I’m here, seven months later, and I’m alive and I’m well,” she said. “Thank goodness for the foundation. I didn’t have to scurry and buy a couple thousand dollars worth of equipment. The bed alone would have been that much.”
West said he founded the organization after seeing his parents struggle in their old age. If they fell or if there was a medical emergency, “there was no wheelchairs, there were no walkers, none of this durable medical equipment,” West said.
“We formed the foundation, and we found out then that our parents were just a small, small amount of seniors that need help,” West said.
Anyone 50 or older is eligible for the foundation’s services. In addition to providing medical equipment, volunteers can perform basic tasks at a client’s home, like changing a light bulb.
The foundation’s HowRU program can call clients at any time of day they choose to make sure they are OK. If a client doesn’t answer the call, a second call is made 15 minutes later. If that call isn’t answered, two emergency contacts will be notified. The program will be ready by Jan. 1, West said, and will have a feature to remind subscribers to take their medication.
“So many of us have trouble remembering what our names are,” West, 80, joked. “There’s a lot of times when we’ll forget to take medication.”
The foundation has over 200 volunteers, according to spokeswoman Shayna Moreno, and performs 20,000-30,000 “assists” annually. Assists can be acts like a home maintenance call or a donation to a client, West said.
Most of the group’s funding comes from donations or fundraising events like golf tournaments and basket raffles, Moreno said.
As West explained the foundation’s background and services, a woman brought her mother into the small office. Within 15 minutes, her mother left with a walker from the foundation. West described the encounter as “the beginning and the end of our service.”
“We’re not the equipment police,” said Lynda Paret, who organizes disbursement of medical equipment. “You let me know when you’re done with it. I’ll put it down for a certain period of time that we agree on. If you return it earlier, fine; if you need to extend it, fine.”
West said the best way for people to learn about services is to call the foundation or visit its website.
”Anybody that is a senior and needs our help, regardless of what they make, regardless of where they came, regardless of where they live, we’re going to try to take care of them as best we can,” West said.
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