By Rachel Gross
Imagine having to buy an expensive piece of medical equipment for short- or long-term use. For many people, this is reality, not something imaginary. Now, community members have the chance to borrow donated medical items through a new gemach set up by Carole and Joram Wolanow.
A gemach (the Hebrew acronym for gemilut chasadim, acts of loving kindness) is a recycling program common within the Orthodox community. They are popular on the East Coast as well as in Israel, where gemachs can be found for baby carriages, clothing, anything people may need.
The Sarah Shannahoff Memorial Gemach is named in memory of Carole’s mother, who died earlier this year. The Wolanows have all of her medical equipment left over at their home and want the community to have access to it.
The following items are available: an electric scooter, a collapsible wheelchair, a transport companion wheelchair, walkers and two shower seats. Carole said she wants the items to continually flow and be useful for those who need them.
“I hope people will donate more items and keep the cycle flowing,” she said. “This is important because not everybody who needs these items is eligible for Medicare. Some people can get it paid for, but others need to buy it and it’s expensive.”
She added that this is not only for senior citizens, but for those who have surgery or need the equipment for a couple of months.
Wolanow got the idea for this from Rachel Leah Rosenberg, who has a gemach for modest simcha dresses. After meeting Wolanow and hearing her story, she believed this would be an asset to the community.
“Carole already had the equipment and I told her to make something to honor her mother’s memory and offer a service,” Rosenberg said. “This is a nice way of borrowing something and helps people who need assistance. It’s a great idea; I’m glad she’s doing it.”
A $1 consideration is needed to get the items and that releases the Wolanows of any liabilities. The dollar constitutes a lease; borrowers can get as many pieces as they want for however long they need them. This is required under Texas state law.
Wolanow said she hopes people create other gemachs in the area to help those in need.
“This is a mitzvah,” Wolanow said. “These items become an expense and can add up. When there are extras in the community, we should let people use them.”
They have already received two walkers from Temple Emanu-El and added an electric scooter to their other items from community member Deborah Baum, who is excited that others can use it.
“We didn’t need the scooter anymore and it was pointless for it to sit around,” she said. “I know how expensive they are, and some people don’t have the insurance to pay for it. We are thrilled that someone else may be able to use it.”
For more information, call Wolanow at 214-890-7583 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.