The Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment and Endowment Virginia receives half of its annual $325,000 cash budget for six offices funneled through the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.
The other half comes from donations, with the American Woodmark Foundation a major donor, along with individual private donors and small grants.
F.R.E.E. is holding an open house from 2-6 p.m. today at its office at 333 W. Cork St., Suite 40, Winchester, for people to view equipment, learn about the program and donate if they wish.
The Virginia program is 20 years old and has six offices statewide, with the other five located in Roanoke, Richmond, Lynchburg, South Hampton Roads and Williamsburg.
Last year F.R.E.E. helped 2,407 people statewide, gave 3,888 pieces of donated rehabilitative and mobility equipment worth an estimated $1.1 million to people in need.
“That’s a return on investment of $77 for every dollar donated,” said Robin Ramsey, executive director of F.R.E.E.
The organization monitors the number of falls people had prior to receiving equipment and the number after receiving it.
For 2018, the number of falls decreased 95%, from 1,400 before receiving help to 64 afterward. The average cost of a hospital stay after a serious fall is $30,000.
F.R.E.E. also estimates average savings of more than $9,000 for every person given equipment, with savings in medical costs last year of more than $20 million.
In the Northern Shenandoah Valley, administered out of F.R.E.E.'s Winchester office, 376 people were helped with 634 pieces of equipment worth $198,953. There were 203 falls before receiving help, dropping to zero afterward.
F.R.E.E.’s single room office and storage facility was donated by Valley Health in the past.
They have been told space will continue to be donated by Chicago-based Healthcare Development Partners, which has purchased the former Winchester Memorial Hospital at 333 W. Cork St.
The company plans a senior living center at the former hospital and it will continue providing space to Blue Ridge Hospice.