In Erin's Eyes: Road to recovery eased by Female Charitable Society

Erin Wisneski 10/06/10More articles
Every year, my family and a few family friends form both a recreational softball and kickball team to play on a couple of leagues in Central New York. Having done this for many years, it is something we all look forward to each spring and summer, to get out, play some ball and enjoy each otherís company.

Being pregnant for most of this season, I was on the sidelines for many of our games. But I knew that going in. What our team didnít anticipate was losing my father for part of the season, due to an increasingly painful hip.

At 53 years old, my father is still quite the athlete outperforming the rest of the team in both effort and skills, despite the fact he has 20-plus years on most of us. Playing second base, itís not unusual to see him dive for a line drive or ground ball, then quickly get up and make the out. To me, the thought of diving for a ball seems way too painful. Sadly, his enthusiasm caught up with him this year as he struggled with a deteriorating hip. He missed several games this summer, both softball and kickball, because the following dayís pain was too much for him to bear. Everyone could tell that not playing made him even more distraught as he anxiously awaited the start of each game, hoping his substitute wouldnít arrive.

Last week, my dad had surgery on his hip, a procedure that involved cleaning and resurfacing his hip joint. The surgery left my father temporarily in need of several medical supplies including a cane and walker. Fortunately, he lives in Baldwinsville and was able to take advantage of a wonderful organization known as the Female Charitable Society, which has a medical supply loan closet. Founded in 1817, the organization is the second oldest in the country and offers more than 1,000 pieces of home care medical equipment.

I stopped in last week to find Marilyn Butcher, a past recipient of the Baldwinsville Volunteer Centerís Woman Volunteer of the Year award and an integral part of many volunteer efforts in Baldwinsville, behind the desk. I was able to pick out a walker for my father (at no charge as he is a resident of the Baldwinsville Central School District), and learn a little about the organization. Marilyn told me they purchased their first medical supply through a donation in 1928 and it was a wheelchair similar to the one used by President Franklin Roosevelt. She also said the closet is stocked through medical supply and monetary donations.

On behalf of my father, I want to thank the Female Charitable Society and its volunteers for their generosity and service to the community. With their assistance, my father will be able to return to second base next year ready to put the rest of the team to shame.

Female Charitable Society roots
The Female Charitable Society of Baldwinsville was founded in 1817 following ďthe year without a summer.Ē In 1816, a killing frost gripped Central New York each month. Neither the settlers nor the Native Americans were able to bring a full crop to harvest.

A group of women from the pioneer settlement met to assess the situation. With frugal use of their larders, they could sustain the community and also share with 250 neighbors, the Oneidas.

The following year brought a return to normal growing conditions. The women quickly discovered that while the community-wide emergency had passed, personal needs continued to emerge among community members. To discretely meet those needs, a group of women pledged themselves to an organized commitment, complete with a constitution. On July 25, 1817, the group officially adopted the name of Female Charitable Society.

With 500-plus members today, the Society continues the role of generosity with gentle discretion. Food, fuel, clothing and medical assistance are quietly dispensed through community agencies, as well as on a one-to-one basis for residents of the Baldwinsville Central School District who are in need.

The Society, supported by dues, gifts and legacies, is located at 10 River St. in the village, and open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Membership is open to all who share an interest in caring for those of the Baldwinsville community whose needs would otherwise be unmet.

In 1928, the Female Charitable Society of Baldwinsville received a request for a wheelchair from a community member. This chair was obtained and was the first piece of equipment loaned from the society, thus the beginning of the organizationís very expansive loan closet.

CATEGORY: Charity & Activism
EDITION: Baldwinsville Messenger

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