Editor’s note: The Republic will profile a different United Way-supported agency each week during the organization’s fall fundraising campaign.
Crutches, wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds, motorized scooters and more surround Cindy Olson in the storage room for Access-Ability.
She looks at it all and wants it gone — at least temporarily gone to do the job it is meant for among the hurting and healing.
“It sometimes seems like no one knows we’re here,” said the interim director since January of the nonprofit United Way of Bartholomew County agency.
Actually, her post has grown from part-time to full-time in recent months, because people are discovering the agency. But Olson wants more to know that the organization, formerly Easter Seals of Bartholomew County, rents and donates medical equipment to those who need it.
It accepts monetary donations for its lending and giving, but finances are not required.
The $30,000 the agency received this year from United Way of Bartholomew County helps make sure it can meet the need for a population without insurance to cover such needed items.
“That money means everything to us as we grow,” Olson said.
Even with help, Access-Ability needs other funds to stay healthy. Its biggest annual fundraiser got under way recently. It is selling a Mill Race Center Christmas ornament, part of its continuing series of ornaments highlighting area architecture.
The agency already has sold 200 of the gold items at $18 apiece. In the past, it has sold as many as 1,000, with Access-Ability receiving half of the funds for its work.
“The money helps us actually buy the items we’re loaning out,” Olson said.
A booth at the summertime Farmer’s Market resulted in a number of donated medical supplies.
‘Trying to beef up’
“But we’re trying to beef up for the aging of the baby boomers,” Olson said.
Columbus’ 61-year-old Linda Koerner is among those. Access-Ability first helped her get a shower chair for her now-late husband a few years ago. Most recently, it loaned her a wheelchair and a device to help her put her socks on after knee ligament surgery.
“Without them,” Koerner said of the agency, “I probably would have simply had to do without.”