Half a century of helping

Bonna McMahon
Special to The Chronicle-Express

Dresden’s First Aid Closet lends medical equipment free of charge

Canes, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, and hospital beds are just a few of the items that can be borrowed free of charge from the First Aid Closet. Call the volunteers at 315-536-9351 to arrange.

DRESDEN – For those who face recovery from an injury, a long illness at home, permanent disability, or the final days of their lives, one local charity has been offering help for over 50 years.

A community mission of the Dresden Methodist Church, the First Aid Closet allows people to borrow medical equipment or supplies at no cost and for as long as they need it.

The First Aid Closet was started by Ray Welker, of Dresden, in 1970 by putting a cane in the closet behind the sanctuary of the Dresden United Methodist Church for anyone to borrow. He soon realized there was a need for a place for people to get first aid equipment. People began to donate first aid equipment, which was borrowed free of charge for as long as one needed it.

Over the years, more and more room was needed to store all the donated items. It went from a closet to a 16-by-18 foot room in the church, and now is housed in its own building on Avenue A in Dresden. The building bears a plaque which reads: "The Dresden First Aid Closet established in 1970 by Raymond Welker, building erected in 2008 under the supervision of Herbert Goodman, funded by donations, erected by volunteers, dedicated August 22, 2009."

The Yates Office for Aging, as well as multiple hospitals -- including Soldiers & Sailors Memorial in Penn Yan, Geneva General, and F.F. Thompson in Canandaigua -- utilize this much-needed service.

The First Aid Closet, now grown to an entire building as the community mission of the Dresden United Methodist Church, is located on Avenue A in Dresden.

The following comments have been posted to Facebook about the First Aid Closet:

"I have sent several people there from Mustard Seed Ministries. It is a wonderful service."

"Great place. Thank you to the Goodmans for being so nice and taking time with all of us that have borrowed."

"It’s a Godsend! They loaned my dad a commode and a seat for the shower. He was with us on hospice but lived 3 1/2 years past the date he went on hospice and we had those items for a good portion of the time. We returned them all cleaned and shined up for the next person!"

"Over the years I've seen this closet help so many people. Whether it be a simple piece of equipment that someone needs for a couple of days or a walker or a wheelchair to help them through for a few months. It's such a great thing for the community."

"We used the first aid closet first for my mom when she needed a wheelchair and a shower bench. Mr. Goodman was so helpful in finding us just the right wheelchair as my mom was a larger lady. Later, when my husband became disabled they again helped with a wheelchair, bed table and shower chair. We have returned the wheelchair and bed table but still use the shower chair. It's such a great asset to our community."

"I never even knew this existed!!! Fantastic! Can we donate items, if ever we have something we no longer need?" (The answer to this question is "yes.")

"And it all started when Ray Welker saw a need and acted on it."

"My husband just passed away a week ago. The closet was so helpful as we went from cane, to walker, to wheel chair, then hospital bed and finally the Hoyer lift. We really appreciated the service."

"It is a wonderful service. I have used it a number of times for friends in need. Bless you all for keeping Ray's memory alive."

"I am a retired OTR and have recommended families use this service. Often people are unaware that Medicare does not pay for showering equipment, tub seats and benches. This is such a wonderful help for those that can't afford some of this DME."

"This is a great service for our community. Thank you!"

"We got a lift chair a few years ago from them and returned it when we were done with it. Great organization."

"A wonderful service!!"

"This is so awesome."

"I will share the concept with my parish. I am excited to share with my Vestry."

"This is amazing!!!"

"I’ve told several people about this and I’ve even used it myself. A couple years ago I had surgery on both feet and needed a wheelchair for a short time. I used it and returned it in a week or two. It worked out perfectly! I know some family members have also used this service! It’s a wonderful thing to have in the area! Whoever has helped me has always been great to work with and accommodating to meet with me even on short notice!"

"We referred a young college neighbor to you when he was very strapped for money and he needed crutches due to an ankle injury. Your wonderful First Aid Closet measured, fit, and provided him with everything he needed for a six week recovery."

"Herb and Elsie Goodman have always helped our family out when we needed something. The First Aid Closet is full of what you may need! Always check the closet before buying. Wonderful service that we have used several times when looking for crutches, wheelchairs, walkers, raised toilet seats, canes, etc.!"

As you can plainly see, our community is very blessed to have the First Aid Closet. Thank you to those who have taken the time to post your thoughts.

Please call the Dresden United Methodist Church at 315-536-9351 if you would like more information on borrowing from or donating to the First Aid Closet. This service is run by volunteers, so please keep trying if you don't get help immediately.