Last week I received an email from Tom Filiault, the DME Reuse Site coordinator at Stavros CIL in Amherst. The email included a picture of an elderly woman, Frances Crowe, who’d recently received a refurbished power wheelchair from REquipment, our durable medical equipment reuse program. In the photo, Crowe is beaming with Bob Blain, a Stavros delivery driver, in front of a large portrait of Sojourner Truth (the abolitionist and fugitive slave). Crowe wears a t-shirt with the slogan, “We Will Not Be Silent.”
When I read that the woman in the photo is 99 years old, I picked up the phone to call her. She radiates such warmth and determination. Here was a REquipment recipient I needed to know more about.
Ms Crowe, I learned, lives independently in the Amherst area. Prior to receiving her power chair from REquipment, she’d relied solely on a rollator-style walker to get around. It just wasn’t cutting it. Crowe has been active in peace and social justice groups her entire adult life. She has no plans to let up now.
Originally from Missouri, she’d moved to NY State in the late 1930s to attend Syracuse University where she became involved in social justice movements. During the Vietnam era, she assisted conscientious objectors, her group helping over 2,000 men apply for and receive this status for moral, ethical or religious reasons. She has received two honorary degrees, one from Smith and other from Columbia for her work to abolish nuclear weapons and war.
When I asked her about the slogan on her shirt she said, “I want people to organize, speak out and resist injustices–whatever injustices are important to them.” Currently, she is a member of Code Pink: Women for Peace, a group that works to end US-funded wars and occupations.
Crowe says her rollator works fine at home but is too slow going outside. Her physician had suggested she obtain a power wheelchair and referred her to REquipment. Now she is looking forward to the snow melting and getting downtown, over to Smith College, and to her monthly Quaker meetings.
When we discussed other types of durable medical equipment that could help with her independence, I suggested a transport wheelchair so that friends might drive her distances without the need for a lift-equipped van. She reassured me that she is savvy with our website and will take a look for what she might like to request next.
Clearly, Frances Crowe will continue to participate in her community and the activities that have always given her life so much meaning. For Crowe, age is not a barrier. REquipment is delighted to play its part.