Thursday, July 23

The Story of Laura Cannon

I came accross the great story of Laura Cannon, one of our WW. resident.

Here is the article from the St.Louis Post Dispatch written by Susan Weich that was published in 5/20/09. And here is the link for the video as well, courtesy of the Newspaper Web-site. VIDEO

I would love to hear more about it. The article is two month old. Would anyone have any update?

"Two winters ago, Laura Cannon was a partner in a marketing firm when her plane got delayed by a snowstorm in Fargo, N.D.

She found a local newspaper and read a paragraph that changed the direction of her life. The item was about a lending program for medical equipment, and the idea stuck with her.

Four months later she founded the nonprofit St. Louis Health Equipment Lending Program — HELP.

Cannon, 52, began operating out of her garage in Warson Woods. She sold her portion of the marketing firm so she could devote more time to the program, but she kept a part-time job so she could pay her bills.

While Cannon was sure her agency would succeed, friends and family were skeptical about starting a nonprofit in terrible economic times and funding it through a home loan.

"I said, 'I don't know, somehow in my heart, I just feel like this is really the right thing to do,' and it's just turned out to be exactly that," she said.

In just one year, Cannon has collected more than 4,000 pieces of medical equipment — wheelchairs, portable commodes, scooters, canes, crutches — and given out more than 1,000 of them.

Many of the items are unusable because they are too old or beaten up, so Cannon recycles them for the plastic, metal and wood. Other donations, things Cannon doesn't use like bandages in open packages, are given to a local veterinarian who works with support dogs. GET MORE
VIDEO: Learn more about St. Louis HELP
Read Susan's earlier columns

Cannon's program has gotten a financial boost from two grants from private foundations. And at a donation drive 10 days ago, people dropped off more than 900 pieces of equipment at a dozen sites in St. Louis and St. Louis and St. Charles counties. (Anyone who wants to donate or borrow an item, can call Cannon at 314-567-4700.)

A 2,200-square-foot warehouse in Olivette is the headquarters for St. Louis HELP now, but Cannon already is trying to get more space.

"I thought this would be a fun weekend project, but it's become a minimum of 10 hours a day," she said. "I have never been happier about the work I'm doing though."

The equipment is refurbished, cleaned and given free of charge to patients who are asked to return the item when they are finished with it. There are no income requirements, she said, but many of the people aided by St. Louis HELP would have had nowhere else to turn.

One of them, Sheryl Nackley, 46, of St. Louis, gets by on disability payments. She has diabetes and her kidneys are failing. When she suffered a broken ankle, she had to move in with her parents in Ballwin.

After meeting with Cannon, she came back with a wheelchair, walker, cane, shower seat and cushions.

"Laura knows about everything that she has," Nackley said. "She tried at least eight seat cushions for the wheelchair with me before we decided on one. I just admire her dedication."

Nackley has since returned the wheelchair because her legs have gotten stronger, but she was unable to go up and down stairs until Cannon got her a 14-foot-long stairlift a few weeks ago.

"New ones cost $3,000 or $3,500, so I don't think there would have been any way for me to get one if it wouldn't have been for St. Louis HELP," she said. "This is a godsend because now I'll be able to get to my bedroom."

Cannon said she gets help from about 60 volunteers, including Eileen and Leo McGeoghegan of St. Ann, who help with wheelchair repair and office work.

"My husband is a paraplegic, and insurance doesn't cover a lot of the needs of people in that situation," Eileen McGeoghegan said. "So many people out there who didn't have the means for transportation via wheelchair have been helped now."

Knowing that is all the motivation Cheryl Nankivil of St. Louis needed to donate several items that had belonged to her parents, both of whom died in the past year.

"I knew I wanted to donate the items, and now I know that they're helping somebody else instead of just sitting around collecting dust," she said."

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting our article. I truly appreciate the support of my neighbors. If anyone has equipment or is in need of equipment, please let me know.
    Best wishes,
    Laura Cannon