Brian Finch would put Mr. Clean to shame. Brian, a volunteer at Stride Wheelchairs, is scrubbing down and polishing a second hand commode, or portable toilet, once used by a person in a wheelchair. It was donated to Stride, along with thousands of other medical assist devices, wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds, lifts, and crutches. The Stride Warehouses on Grenfell Avenue in West Ottawa are so full right now, people wanting to donate are being turned away.
In any other business that would be a wonderful predicament. Not for Stride. Those who run the non for-profit, say not enough people know about the program. Inventory is also stacking up, they say, because the Ontario government refuses to pay for re-cycled medical assists. Catherine Gardener, a volunteer who speaks for Stride, says it means many of those who urgently need help aren't getting it; perfectly good equipment is going unused or ending up in landfills; and taxpayers are paying needlessly. She says she has pointed out the problem to politicians at all levels of government, yet nothing has been done. So, this week she made the case to me while we toured 2 packed warehouses.
Stride is entirely volunteer run, established to fill a huge need in the community. As a volunteer and advocate for the physically challenged Catherine Gardner knows first hand how a simple assist device can mean the difference between being house bound and being independent. She says too many people can't afford them, and unless a person qualifies for disability assistance, medical assist devices are only partially covered by government, or not at all.
Stride accuses the Ontario government of being short sighted. Hypocritical too, because while it refuses to pay for second hand items, it will pay for brand new wheelchairs for those who qualify. Gardner feels that makes no sense. She feels it's time for the Ontario government to get serious about helping people remain independent, and she'd like it to start by re-cycling some big ticket items taxpayers have paid for.
Note: All items donated to Stride are stripped down, power washed and re-assembled like new. The government says "liability" is the main reason why it won't pay for re-cycled items. Anything purchased at Stride comes with a three month guarantee.
If you would like to shop at Stride - call ahead to make an appointment. While I was shooting the interviews with Catherine Gardner I met Bob McIlvenna who was looking for a commode. Bob suffered five herniated discs and has been in a wheelchair for 4 months.
If you would like to shop at Stride - call ahead to make an appointment. Volunteers also needed.
Stride: Telephone 613-723-0528
Hours: Tues, Thurs, Sat. 10 am - 3.30 pm