During a worldwide health crisis, it might be thought people would be in more need of medical and related equipment.
But that does not seem to be the case with Sunshine Service, 9980 W. Santa Fe Drive, the Sun City-based agency that provides equipment such as walkers, hospital beds, shower chairs and a wide range of other helpful household devices. Sunshine Services is fielding less requests, according to Jim Sinclair, agency director.
“We are usually down in the summer, but now we are seeing about 10 people per day, about one-third of what we normally see,” he said.
Mr. Sinclair speculated that the reason for the drop in requests is at least partly due to so many people staying home and taking care of their needs as best they can.
Despite the decrease in requests, the Sunshine Service staff of 12 remains ready to serve those who come in, according to Mr. Sinclair.
“We have all remained healthy,” he said.
The agency did have one worker who opted to take some time off due to the coronavirus, but more out of a desire to avoid getting rather than having been infected, according to Mr. Sinclair.
In addition to sanitizing equipment before it goes out and after it is returned, Mr. Sinclair said staff sanitizes areas of contact within the office and warehouse 2-3 times per day.
“The office desks are sanitized hourly,” he added.
All staff are required to wear masks while working, and they work in shifts so they are not all in the facility at one time, Mr. Sinclair explained.
“We never considered shutting down,” Mr. Sinclair said. “We consider ourselves essential.”
While medical equipment is one aspect of the equipment available, Sunshine Service has other household items, including rollaway beds and high chairs, walkers and other items for youngsters.
“We’re also about the happy time when family comes for a visit,” Paul Herrmann, Sunshine Service board president, stated on the agency website. “We can help with the needs of your grandchildren.”
There is no charge for items received from Sunshine Service and borrowers can keep the equipment as long as they need it. While there is no charge, donations are gladly accepted, according to Mr. Herrmann.
“I’d like to express how proud I am of our entire staff for their resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. Herrmann stated in an email. “They realized the pandemic doesn’t stop or diminish the needs of the Sun City residents for durable medical equipment.”
He added the staff is the backbone of the organization.
“Jim Sinclair and the entire staff are committed to serving the needs of our community,” he stated. “They truly are working to make life easier for our residents during this very trying time.”
Sunshine Service got its start in 1961 as the Sunshine Committee, part of the Sun City Civic Association, to help residents who were unable to pay the $40 recreation dues. A Sick and Visiting Committee was also formed and eventually the two merged.
In the first year, the Sunshine Committee learned of a resident who had to pay $35 to rent a hospital bed for one month, according to information on the Sunshine Service website. The committee purchased three hospital beds from Memorial Hospital in Phoenix for $24 each, as well as second-hand equipment and walkers. Residents also donated items and the first bed and wheelchair were loaned on April 2, 1962, according to the website. All of the equipment was kept in the carport and on the lanai at the home of Rev. E. Duane Thistlethwaite’s, the committees’ first chairman.
The Sunshine Committee became an independent chartered organization in October 1964 and the name was changed to Sunshine Service, Inc. Rev. Thistlethwaite was elected president and served in that capacity until ill health forced his resignation in 1981, according to the Sunshine Service website.
Sunshine Service’s Santa Fe drive facility is its second location, both donated by the Del Webb Co. The current facility, expanded twice over the years, encompasses 22,000 square feet and contains an inventory worth more than $1.6 million, according to the Sunshine Service website.
Awards received by Sunshine Service include the George Washington Honor Medal for services to the sick and handicapped from the Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge in Pennsylvania.