FSK Lions Club steps in with medical equipment

In August 2019 when Frederick nonprofit Federated Charities announced their intention of shuttering their free used medical equipment program (Local Lions Clubs fill void, July 11, 2019), some newer members of the Francis Scott Key Lions Club knew they had to help.

Lion Ellen Bennett Image

Lion Ellen Bennett with some of the medical equipment.

“With a motto of ‘We Serve,’ there was never a question of our club not stepping up and helping out,” said Gary Bennett, an FSK Lions Club member who saw the Federated Charities announcement in the News-Post and took up the charge. “This is a needed program that just had to continue in some shape or form.”

As the July 11 news article reported, several other Lions Clubs in the county and surrounding area also provide free medical equipment to all who ask, but none of the three clubs serving the greater Frederick area had participated to this point.

“The need is there,” according to Gary’s wife, Ellen Bennett, who is a retired hospice and long-term care nurse and fellow FSK Lion. “Many folks in our community just can’t afford the medical equipment they need, and they fall through the cracks because their health insurance won’t cover this needed equipment. We’ll lend it for free.” She will serve as program manager for the FSK Lions program.

“We will serve as a conduit for those with medical equipment to share to get it into the hands of those who need it. It’s really not much different from a lending library,” said Ellen. We will ensure that all equipment is clean, disinfected, and in good working order when it is picked up.”

The FSK Lions used medical equipment program will provide wheelchairs, knee scooters, walkers, rollators, bedside commodes, shower chairs, crutches, and canes. Those with equipment no longer needed can contact the Bennetts through the club’s website (www.fsklions.org or email medequip@fsklions.org) or the regional Lions Clubs website at https://mdlions22w.org/. Just find the tab “Medical Equipment” and then FSK Lions Club. Citizens needing equipment can use the same web address to get help.

Other Lions Clubs serving the immediate area with used medical equipment include Boonsboro, Funkstown, Hagerstown, Libertytown-Unionville, Mount Airy, New Windsor, Smithsburg, Taneytown, Union Bridge, Williamsport, and more. Potential clients are encouraged to contact the Lions Club closest to them.

For the time being, the FSK program will operate out of the Bennetts’ garage in the Frederick area. “Trying to find an appropriate and permanent home for such a needed program is more difficult that you might imagine,” according to Gary. “I’ve contacted numerous storage facilities and other likely targets such as other nonprofits to no avail. I know the Frederick community wants to help so if any of your readers know of a facility or can provide one of their own, we would like to hear about it. We need about 300 square feet. We don’t mind giving up our garage for such a worthy cause, but it’s not a good long-term solution for us or the Lions.”

Securing an appropriate storage facility for the medical equipment is what has caused many Lions Clubs, including the Frederick and Yellow Springs clubs, to not participate. “Lions Clubs serving smaller communities that tend to have their own buildings are more able to provide a service like this,” said FSK Lions Club president Duane Voitel. “We are proud of the Bennetts for stepping up but we need the community to also help us. We don’t mind putting in the volunteer hours to coordinate something like this, but we just don’t have the funds or land to set our own storage facility on. We’d certainly like to have something more centrally located in downtown Frederick so we can best serve the folks who need it the most. Lions Club International does provide its own insurance.”

According to Gary Bennett, anyone needing equipment can contact them through the FSK Lions Club and have it the next day. Recipients are expected to pick up the equipment themselves, but in certain situations, the Lions can help with that. Recipients can use the equipment for as long as they need but are expected to eventually return it so the Lions can lend it again.

“Elin Ross with Federated Charities has been invaluable in helping us set up this program,” said Gary. “They’ve provided valuable consultation, advice, and a waiver document that we are using. We also thank Lions Jim Ensor with the Libertytown-Unionville Lions Club and Dennis Ahalt with the Mount Airy Lions Club for helping us build our inventory and Frederick’s Senior Services Division and Frederick Health Hospice who are helping to spread the word about this program.”

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with almost 1.45 million members in approximately 47,000 clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas around the world. Since 1917, Lions Clubs have assisted the blind and visually impaired and made a strong commitment to community service and serving youth throughout the world. Lions Clubs are comprised of individuals who identify needs within the community and work together to fulfill those needs. If you are community-minded, consider joining the FSK Lions Club, which has been serving the Frederick community since 1959 and meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Frederick VFW, 5901 Old National Pike, preceded by dinner at Capital Crave at 6 p.m. For reservations, contact Treasurer Toni Gray at 240/626-6030.

Community-minded persons interested in becoming a Lion and joining the FSK Lions Club are asked to visit www.fsklions.org, at facebook.com/FrancisScottKeyLionsClub, at twitter.com/FSKLions or www.flickr.com/photos/fsklions/, or contact Membership Chairman Sandra Evans through the club’s website, at membership@fsklions.org, or at 301/732-5262.

To support the club’s other charitable programs, visit www.cedarridgesoaps.com and use coupon code “FSKLions” upon check out (proceeds benefit Lions Clubs International Foundation); or visit www.livalit.com/amt to register for the club’s December 10 American Music Theater holiday bus trip fundraiser.