Thinking Outside the Box in Disability Ministry: Equipment Lending Libraries


When our son had an ankle joint bleed at the age of 4 during the week of summer day camp, we were ill prepared to redeem the rest of the week.  He had to be off his feet, resting that ankle for days.  How would we enjoy the remainder of the camp we had paid for when he couldn’t walk?  Fortunately, we were rescued through the generosity of another mother passing on her borrowed pediatric wheelchair from Katy’s Kloset, a durable equipment lending library in our area.  Started in the late 1990’s by the mother of a child with special challenges, this operation is supported by a number of local parents who have come together as a non-profit.

Considering that the price of a wheelchair can range anywhere from $300 to in excess of $5,000, the cost can be devastating to a family, especially if the need is temporary.  Furthermore, receiving a piece of durable medical equipment can be challenging when the need is immediate.  Delivery can take weeks, even months.  Rentals are not always in good shape or readily available either.

A lending library is a valuable means for those in need to not only be blessed, but to bless in return.  The amount of waste in medicine is outrageous.  Those who have a disability often find they have equipment they no longer need or more of a supply than they will actually use.  An equipment trading post offers the opportunity to both borrow and pass on according to the individual’s current need.

While many churches have heard of Joni & Friends Wheels for the World, the mission to pass on durable equipment to children in 3rd world countries, few have considered the value of establishing a lending library right in their own community.  A church’s ability to provide a relatively small amount of storage space makes for a wonderful opportunity to reach out and help a hurting world.  Repurposing walkers, crutches, slings, braces, and other durables right in your own community can be valuable in addition to wheelchairs.  When equipment sits for a set period of time without lending, it can be cycled out of the inventory by sending it on to a place like Wheels for the World or IMEC.

Give this different angle of special needs ministry some consideration.  It could prove to be a different way to get more church members activated.  Explore this road less traveled.

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