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The Good Place: Lending More Than a Hand

By Vivian Vassos

The Lending Cupboard in Red Deer operates like a regular library, but instead of books, people come to check out much-needed medical equipment—the kind they wouldn’t be able to afford on their own. 

A wide range of equipment is made available to those in need, like crutches, bath chairs, wheelchairs and hospital beds. The registered charity’s service is simple to use, says its executive director, Lori Shatto. “Come with a requisition from your doctor and you can borrow what you need.”  

It was Jacqui Joys, founder of The Lending Cupboard, who came up with the concept when her husband became ill and she couldn’t find the medical equipment for his daily care. “Jacqui started knocking on doors and she persevered,” says Shatto. Joys enlisted a group of friends and service clubs to canvas hospitals, medical facilities and donors, and the idea of a lending resource spread from Red Deer to Lethbridge. Joys no longer runs the charity but is still a big supporter. 

Early in her career, Shatto herself worked for hospital foundations and discovered a passion for helping people find what they need in health care. She credits that drive to what she sees in her colleagues and how they make a difference in people’s daily lives. “The simple act of providing crutches or a wheelchair—it’s hard to explain. It’s something within you. You can’t let it go.” 

The Lending Cupboard, which served 22,000-plus clients last year, stocks 15,000 pieces of medical equipment, all meticulously maintained, cleaned and inspected for safety. More than 60 volunteers keep the place running. 

It’s the welcoming environment that counts, Shatto explains. “Clients are coming at a vulnerable time, so it’s important to treat everyone with respect and kindness.” Lending an elderly lady a walker that comes with a seat and brakes is just one example. It allows her to keep going to her weekly bridge game and see her friends. Things like that are impactful, especially because confidence and mental health go hand in hand. “To allow people to live with dignity,” says Shatto, “there’s nothing better.” 

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