Non-profit organization relaunches medical equipment loan closet

Molly Hoadley, founder of No Place Like Home, said the Medical Equipment Loan Closet is expected to be operational in September. Hoadley is shown with equipment that was due to be cleaned and disinfected by students participating in a restorative justice project one day last week. Photo by Tammy Wells

KENNEBUNK – Need a pair of crutches to get you around while recovering from an injury, a seat to make showering safer, or maybe a wheelchair or other medical equipment?

The folks at No Place Like Home will soon be able to help.

The all-volunteer nonprofit will take over the city-run medical equipment loan closet that closed in December. When it ceased operations, city officials expressed the feeling that the shutdown was temporary – and so it is.

No Place Like Home founder Molly Hoadley has said the target date for the loan closet reboot is September.

She said the nonprofit group got involved just because they wanted to continue the mission.

The closet was created by the Kennebunk Aging Committee.

No Place like Home was created by Hoadley after attending a conference on aging in 2014. Volunteers help seniors stay in their homes and neighborhoods for as long as they want. Volunteers change light bulbs, install grab bars, do small weatherization jobs and do other small chores to improve home safety, at no cost, according to its website.

On a recent weekday, Jason Solomon, an assistant in the York County Sheriff’s Office, a school resources officer, was supervising three high school students cleaning and disinfecting equipment. The trio of young people wiped down shower chairs, crutches, dressers and other equipment, taking them apart as necessary to ensure each room was washed before being disinfected.

Students participating in a restorative justice project clean and disinfect medical equipment in mid-July. the No Place like Home nonprofit volunteer group will operate the closet. Photo by Tammy Wells

The three were on a restorative justice initiative – they had previously admitted playing a prank and could have been charged with a felony, but authorities chose a different path.

York County Sheriff William King said his agency is consulting York County Prosecutor Kathryn Slattery on decisions about restorative justice initiatives that keep people out of the criminal justice system.

“A lot of times once in the system, even for a minor infraction, the stigma follows you on and on,” King said. “Some people have been refused enlistment in the military and have been excluded from their jobs… because of minor indiscretion. Restorative justice teaches impressionable minds about the devastating effects criminal conduct has on others. “

Solomon said the work of disinfecting medical equipment was part of the 50 hours of community service each student was required to complete. They picked up trash and performed other chores to help them fulfill their pledge. The trio, usually joined by a fourth student, complete their homework in four hour increments. Solomon noted that some of them also have summer jobs.

One of the students said the group volunteered in a pantry, washed the windows of a school bus and performed similar tasks.

“I learned my lesson,” said one of the trio.

The board of directors recently approved the plan that moved the equipment loan program to No Place Like Home. The nonprofit group has acquired insurance to operate the program, City Manager Mike Pardue said, and the city has insurance on a storage unit where items are to be kept.

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