BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Shower benches, raised toilet seats and travel wheelchairs are necessities for those with medical conditions that limit mobility, but most insurance companies don’t cover the cost.
Blessings in Disguise, a nonprofit founded by Maumee resident John Sayre, is there to help – with assistance from some friends.
On June 30, as the mercury hit 95 degrees, a team of volunteers from The Andersons’ procurement department hustled outside the headquarters and greeted Sayre as he pulled up in a U-Haul filled with unassembled shower chairs and transfer benches.
“For The Andersons’ 75th anniversary, our CEO challenged us to engage in 75 acts of service this year,” said Anna Harless, one of six team members using tools to put the medical equipment together. Wearing matching yellow T-shirts, the employees finished all 48 pieces and loaded them back into the truck for Sayre, who thanked them with Blessings in Disguise mugs.
“Forty-eight seniors will be impacted,” Sayre said. “We have over 20 who are waiting for these.”
The cost of durable medical goods is up 27 percent in the past year, and supply chain issues have made it tough to get them at all, Sayre said, but he’s not deterred in his mission to help out those in need.
Blessings in Disguise has helped over 4,900 people since Sayre founded it in 2014. He named the nonprofit after his grandmother’s saying: “When something bad happens and you learn from it, that’s a blessing in disguise.”
After experiencing his own financial challenges, Sayre bounced back and decided to help others. Blessings in Disguise now does that with three programs: Help for Seniors, Be Kind and Help for Hardship.
The durable medical goods are part of the Help for Seniors program, which is his primary focus.
“Insurance companies are getting tougher. They typically don’t cover the costs of these items except for wheelchairs, and it could be years in between when you can get a replacement,” he said.
Transport wheelchairs, which weigh just 11 pounds compared to bulkier ones, are much easier for elderly people to load in and out of a car and to push around while going to appointments, he noted.
“We always need donations of used durable medical equipment or money to buy things like shower chairs and transfer benches,” Sayre said.
Through the Be Kind program, Blessings in Disguise recently donated 600 bibs and 400 Disney books to Christ Child Society of Toledo, a nonprofit that serves at-risk children in need. At Christmastime, Sayre hosts an “undercover cashier” event, so that kids can get gifts for the holiday.
Help for Hardship was Sayre’s first program, and it helps people who are on short-term disability, family leave or unemployed through no fault of their own.
Blessings in Disguise continues helping others because many companies and individuals provide funds, products and their time. And for that, Sayre said, he is grateful.
For more information, visit www.blessingsid.org or Blessings in Disguise on Facebook.