Bill and Jackie Dehmer Volunteer with St. Louis HELP Because the Payback is Priceless
With their faithful Chihuahua named Rosie often at their side, Bill and Jackie Dehmer of Ferguson have volunteered with the St. Louis Health Equipment Lending Program (St. Louis HELP) for many years, serving the nonprofit organization with pride and enthusiasm evident in their friendly smiles.
“You can’t say enough good things about St. Louis HELP — it answers many prayers by serving thousands of people,” says Bill, who met the nonprofit’s founder Laura Cannon Singer in 2007 as a result of his volunteerism for the nonprofit Wheels for the World ministry.
St. Louis HELP freely loans wheelchairs, hospital beds, walkers, crutches, shower chairs, tub benches, grab bars, portable commodes, lift chairs, pediatric equipment and additional medical equipment to any person, caregiver or family at absolutely no cost. (http://www.stlhelp.org)
It collects about 11,000 items of donated home health equipment annually in twice-a-year equipment drives and via donations of equipment that people bring to its warehouse during the year. All donated equipment is cleaned and reconditioned by a team of skilled craftsmen and volunteers. Each year, St. Louis HELP diverts about 140 tons of equipment that would otherwise end up in landfills.
“When I first met Laura Cannon-Singer, she was in the process of founding St. Louis HELP as a not-for-profit entity that would freely loan all types of home health equipment to anyone who needed it, and also recycle medical items unsuitable for distribution,” says Bill.
“I had worked in medical equipment sales for years, and I knew that St. Louis HELP was a great concept for serving a variety of needs for people in metro St. Louis,” he says.
“Even for people with insurance, many home health items are not covered. For example, more than ten years ago Medicare/Medicaid stopped covering items for the shower — one of the most dangerous places for someone with mobility issues.”
“It wasn’t long before my wife Jackie and I got involved with St. Louis HELP — and we have never looked back. It is a wonderful organization.”
Over the years, Bill and Jackie — usually with Rosie at their side — have volunteered to staff special events, attend medical fairs, assist with communications and recruit additional volunteers for St. Louis HELP, whose warehouse is located in Olivette.
Both of the Dehmers (and Rosie) also assist with St. Louis HELP’s medical equipment donation drives. In addition to staffing the donation drives, they have recruited seven other volunteers since 2011 from North County Community Church. The next donation drive is set for Saturday, October 8, 2016, and will occur at 14 different Walgreen’s parking lots in metro St. Louis where anyone can drop off used medical equipment and receive a tax deduction.
Jackie Dehmer says, “It is a joy for us to see people donate used medical equipment that they may have kept in their attic or basement. In some cases, that equipment belonged to a loved one in their family who has passed. The experience of donating that equipment to St. Louis HELP for someone else to use often provides a sense of closure and peace.”
The Dehmers have been married since 1960. Bill and Jackie stay fit through participation in a Silver Sneakers program at a YMCA near their home. They also volunteer as greeters and ticket takers at The Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis.
“We have a great relationship with St. Louis HELP and it’s been that way since the beginning,” says Bill, who is 81. “We meet many different types of people and it is always a joyous experience.”
“The payback is priceless.”
St. Louis HELP is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. For free loans of home health equipment or to donate health equipment you don’t need, please call St. Louis HELP at 314 567 4700 or see the website http://www.stlhelp.org.