Robert J. Allen Medical Equipment Distribution Center
Back in 2013 we reported in the RI Freemason the continued success and expansion of the Medical Equipment Center since its humble beginnings in 2002.
Our Most Successful Charity
By: R∴W∴Richard Lynch, Editor
If you have ever visited the “Distribution Center” on any Friday between 9:00 AM and noon you will realize just how many people are impacted by our service. As M∴W∴Bob Allen, PGM once said; “Freemasons in Rhode Island through Grand Lodge Charities as well as the charities of the other concordant bodies has helped more people than any other fraternal organization in RI. Our scholarship programs, CHIP program, contributions at the Blue Lodge level and Grand Lodge level have served many people, but no single program has impacted more peoples’ lives than the Medical Equipment Distribution Center.”
If you consider that we have been open every Friday since the Center’s inception, over fifteen years ago, and take care of 15 to 20 “people in need” every week, then we have impacted thousands! Masons, their families and people of every walk of life use our services of providing good clean medical equipment to those in need, free of charge. Letters of thanks are received regularly from individuals and health care facilities. In recent times we distributed medical equipment to those in need in such countries as Haiti, the Azores, Nigeria, Brazil through third party contacts, as well as our adjoining New England states. Little did Most Worshipful Bob Allen ever dream it would grow to be this successful!
In 2017 Brother George Donahue of Harmony Lodge, a long-time volunteer at the Equipment Center assumed the directorship of the Center. M∴W∴Bob wanted to step back and turn leadership over to a younger brother.
The success of the program continues to grow with more people to help each week. The Center is receiving more and more donations of equipment and despite a continuous demand, the facility has become quite congested. For the last couple of years some space was being used in the Shrine garage. George made it a priority when he took over to explore ways of expanding our storage space. The realization was that we needed to add on to the building or build an adjoining structure. After many ideas were explored a prefabricated building was chosen as the best option. George submitted a proposal to Grand Master Iacobucci who in turn discussed it with the Masonic Charities. Masonic Charities agreed to fund the purchase. In late spring, a concrete slab was laid for the building and the new building arrived shortly thereafter.
Recently we had a very fortuitous donation made to the Center. National Grid had a major regional management meeting scheduled in Providence. As part of their meeting they had scheduled a “team building” session where they would collectively work on a project that would benefit the community. They had decided that they would purchase 12 new wheelchairs unassembled, work as a team to build all 12 and then donate them to a worthy cause within the area. They contacted Brother and General Rick Baccus the Commandant of the Veteran’s Home in Bristol to see if they could use the wheelchairs. R∴W∴Rick explained that because the new home had just been completed several months earlier they already had an adequate supply of wheelchairs but recommended that they consider donating them to the Masonic Medical Equipment Center who was in desperate need of wheelchairs. National Grid was happy to accept this recommendation and George was contacted and came to the meeting to accept the donation on behalf of the Center.
With our new expanded capacity, we can now better serve those in need. One thing that is always in short supply is volunteer help. If you are interested in helping and can give a few hours of your time on Friday mornings, your help would be greatly appreciated. The Center is open from 9:00 AM to 12:00 noon.
We extend our gratitude to the National Grid employees for their generous contribution, to R∴W∴Rick Baccus for his referral. Also, a special thank you to Past Grand Master Peter Iacobucci and the board of Grand Lodge Charities for making the new building a reality. A thank you to all the brothers who assist each and every Friday.