ECHHO 2017 Autumn Newsletter

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From Executive Director, Sarah McMahan

We begin as always by thanking our donors and our volunteers, because without you, ECHHO could not exist! Because of your kindness, generosity and compassion, there are stories to tell. Every time our phone rings and it’s someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and needs daily radiation for two weeks, that story becomes NEWS when our team goes right to work and we are able to find volunteers to drive that client to every treatment! Whenever someone rings the doorbell and tells Walt (or Gary – see below!) that they are losing their ability to walk and wonder if we can help, it is NEWS when because of our donors’ generosity we can offer them a choice of walkers, wheelchairs and electric carts. What we do together is all about loving compassion!

MORE NEWS! We recently decided to return to and expand the ‘in-home services” with which ECHHO began 20 years ago, to include those who are challenged by medical problems and have no family nearby nor financial resources to hire someone to vacuum or walk the dog while they recover. We’ve become aware of how many of our seniors are “elder orphans” – alone, lonely and vulnerable, with no one to check in with them. Often, having a new friend show up even once a week to play Scrabble, read aloud to them or just sit and chat can be all that’s needed to restore a sense of meaning and BELOVEDNESS! And so . . .

IT’S WHAT I CALL A MINOR MIRACLE when 2 new volunteers introduced themselves to me and said they don’t want to drive or work in ECHHO’s office, but would love to volunteer to visit folks in their homes! And so, with other volunteers who have stated this preference in the past, we have enlisted a cadre of In Home Service Friends! All that is needed now is to “get the word out” to our clients and to the public! And as calls requesting such care start coming in, it would be wonderful if one of our volunteers would want to donate just a few hours a week to help coordinate assignments of volunteers to care receivers! WE’RE WELL ON OUR WAY TO MAKING AN EVEN BIGGER DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF OUR NEIGHBORS IN E. JEFFERSON COUNTY!

SUSANNE ERICSON IS AWESOME! Since we hired her as Volunteer Administrator in August, Susanne has signed up 18 new volunteers! She talks about ECHHO wherever she goes, and we’re reaping the fruits of her gladness! Right now, Susanne, and all of us, are extremely grateful for the volunteers who have responded to her calls about the November visit from the Olympic Area Agency on Aging, when they will conduct their annual audit. Everything is up to date and ready because our volunteers returned her calls, responded to her emails and helped get all of their documentation completed! Susanne is a delightful addition to our staff!

OUR NEW WEBPAGE! Please visit, and see what’s happened! Danny, at the Rockfish Group, has done a fantastic job of rearranging, editing, adding and subtracting, and we have an impressive website that has SEVERAL NEW WAYS THAT YOU CAN MAKE DONATIONS TO ECHHO! You’ll find all sorts of interesting information there about us and the work we do in our community.

CHANGES ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS: With Ken and Kris Davenny and Hank Hazen retiring, after many years of much-appreciated service, we have recruited two new members: Alan Dombrowski (formerly ED of St. Vincent de Paul, Seattle, and Dr. David Whitney. They’ve jumped right in and have already participated in some positive and promising new ideas, and we are extremely glad to have them onboard (pardon the pun)!

VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH: I could very easily nominate at least four volunteers for this position; Joy Reuther-Costa, Penny Vorster, Nancy Budd-Garven and Judy Munden . . . However, our beloved (yes, beloved) equipment manager, Walt Hill, is away on vacation. When we realized it was going to be extremely taxing to our staff to try and fill in for Walt, I asked Susanne to find us a volunteer, and so she did (as always)! Walt trained Gary Novak to do the job, and he’s been here every work day since Walt left, efficiently, quietly and compassionately meeting every request for everything from commodes to hospital beds! Here’s what Gary has to say about his time in ECHHO’s busy office:

What I Learned Volunteering at ECHHO

“I’ve driven for ECHHO in the past, but this week is my first time handling medical equipment distribution. I am trying to fill in for Walt while he takes a much-needed vacation. I never knew there were so many different kinds of wheelchairs. I’d never seen a knee scooter. ECHHO has everything imaginable in stock, and I can probably find whatever you may need in less than three hours.

Handing out equipment is only half the job. When equipment is returned I have to clean it up and find a place to store it so it will be ready again for use. If ECHHO equipment has been left outside and rusted or been otherwise damaged it must be discarded. If the commodes and other toilet gear aren’t cleaned at your house they have to be cleaned here at our house, and believe me, that’s not fun!

Coming or going, every piece of equipment has a story to tell. I am not allowed to ask clients why they need, just what they need. If I seem lacking I compassion when you return that hospital bed it is because our protocol is not to pry. I think I’m doing a great job. Walt might feel different when he returns but staying with protocol, I will not ask him.”

Gary Novak

Sarah McMahan
Executive Director

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