Originally posted in The Journal Record.
OKLAHOMA CITY – As a nonprofit life care retirement community for seniors, Concordia Life Care Community strives to offer its residents an engaging atmosphere that includes fitness programs, dining services, activities and nursing care.
But it also strives to help those outside its organization by coordinating the donation of thousands of dollars of furniture and durable medical equipment, or DME, to low-income seniors who otherwise would be sleeping on the floor and living in undesirable conditions.
Since 2013, Concordia’s DME/Furniture Program donations have gone to seniors served by Sunbeam’s 11-bed emergency shelter for seniors transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing. During times when Concordia has excess furniture, the furniture benefits low-income senior residents at several Oklahoma City Housing Authority communities.
“There is no greater joy than hearing from a client how much it means to them to receive furniture, and to know that a complete stranger cares about them,” Paige Mills-Haag, Concordia’s director of fund development, said in an email. “I believe everyone who has participated in the DME/Furniture Program on any level has been deeply impacted by the experience.”
Overall, the program has helped about 200 older adults and seniors, including providing furniture and medical equipment for 77 people at Sunbeam and 32 truckloads of donations to the Oklahoma City Housing Authority. The total value of donations is about $100,000; Concordia staff members and volunteers have contributed about 1,800 hours to the program.
Concordia became involved when it launched three key outreach programs in 2013 to address unmet needs for older adults and seniors. One of them was the DME/Furniture Program, which was born from a roundtable discussion with representatives from Concordia, Sunbeam, Home Instead and Right at Home.
Concordia rented an off-site storage unit to store the items and began soliciting Concordia residents, families, staff members, board members, donors and partner agencies for donations of used medical equipment and furniture in good condition. Concordia manages the project and its maintenance men deliver the furniture, with help from partner agencies Senior Transitions and Affiliated Movers.
One of the program’s key goals is to provide care and restore the dignity of older adults and seniors, many of them disabled or suffering from serious illness.
“Individuals benefiting from this program are older adults and seniors who have experienced neglect, abuse, homelessness and in some cases been victimized at the hands of family members or friends,” Mills-Haag said. “These individuals are quite vulnerable and need support and services to escape the cycle of poverty and homelessness.”