For 10 Years Neighbors assist a woman out of her wheelchair into her bed every night
While Q’STRAINT – a provider of wheelchair safety and mobility solutions – normally reports on the technical side of their company’s products, sometimes a story about a community banding together to help a person with a disability becomes irresistible to ignore.
This was the case recently when CNN reported on a story about Kathy Felt, a 66-year-old woman whose health condition required her to receive help getting into bed every night. Since she lived alone her only recourse would have been to enter a nursing home.
But living in a nursing home became unnecessary for Kathy thanks to Keith Pugmire – her backyard neighbor for 38 years.
Pugmire, 65, had other plans for Kathy. He devised a plan to help Felt.
“So many people have been inspired by her story and her courage in the face of such devastating health challenges.”
“We just got together as a neighborhood and church group and said, ‘What can we do, Kathy, to help you and your family out?'” Pugmire tells CNN. “It was determined that the best thing we could do is have a couple of men come in each night and help her.” At the moment, Keith did not have a timeline in mind as to how long he could perform this herculean effort. That was 10 years ago.
Fast forward to today when Pugmire has assembled a virtual platoon of volunteers who continue to visit Kathy – a beloved figure in her neighborhood – and help her get into bed every evening. Some 60 men are on a schedule to visit Felt, always two at a time. There’s even a waiting list of neighbors who want to help. But while the story seems like a fictional movie, it is not. This is how folks care for each other in Sandy, Utah, just south of Salt Lake City.
When asked about her thoughts involving this outpouring of help, Felt says, “It just makes me feel very humble.”
Felt was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1978. As the disease worsened it took a toll on her and eventually she could not get out of her wheelchair under her own power to get into bed at night.
“It started out with a core group of 20 to 30 people,” Pugmiere says. Through the use of technology, Pugmire eventually began using a free online management tool to coordinate his growing list of volunteers.
“We had no problem getting the men. As a matter of fact, we have a hard time scheduling everybody,” he says.
Felt has developed a special bond with her team of volunteers and is eternally grateful for their remarkable gesture. Conversely her cadre of volunteers are grateful for the opportunity to lend a hand or two as well as several arms.
“So many people have been inspired by her story and her courage in the face of such devastating health challenges,” says Pugmire.
As for Felt, she is overwhelmed with gratitude for her neighbors.
“I’m just so grateful for the friendship that I have with them,” she says. “You just can’t put a price on that.”
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