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Need a break? Reach out for range of help for special needs

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Person in a wheelchair with a backpack attached to it

In this article, you’ll find answers to questions like:

1. Where to start?
2. Where to find equipment?
3. What is Hope 4 Mobility?

Are you a parent or caregiver looking for equipment or respite care for your special-needs child? Don't worry, we can help guide you.

1. WHERE TO START?

Clinics Can Help is just one of several programs in Palm Beach County that can lend a hand. Families can get gently used medical equipment that has been cleaned and refurbished.

United Community Options of Broward, Palm Beach & Mid-Coast Counties (formerly United Cerebral Palsy) offers respite care, while United Way manages the Special Needs Equipment Fund on behalf of Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County.

Also, people who call the 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast hotline at 2-1-1 will be referred to a program that may be able to help, says Patrice Schroeder, 211 community relations specialist.

2. WHERE TO FIND EQUIPMENT?

Owen O’Neill, a former hospice nurse, founded Clinics Can Help in West Palm Beach in 2005 when he noticed there was plenty of durable medical equipment available, but people couldn’t afford it.

“We actually bridge the gap between surplus equipment and a family’s need,” says Maureen Ashe, director of development. “The only qualification is that you need the equipment.”

Jennifer Gottlieb had been waiting for insurance to provide a shower chair for her special-needs son. But she got one immediately when she walked into Clinics Can Help.

Gottlieb heard about the program from her son’s physical therapist. Now she checks with Clinics Can Help first when she needs special equipment.

“With Clinics Can Help, I [don’t] have to wait four to six weeks, or even six months like I might have to wait with insurance,” says Gottlieb, whose son, Cole, has cerebral palsy.

In addition to the chair, Gottlieb got an adaptive stroller, a gait trainer and other items.

“I really believe in what they’re doing,” Gottlieb says. “They’ve really helped me financially.”

Prospective clients can call 561-640-2995 to get started and fill out an application. The agency does encourage suggested donations.

3. WHAT IS HOPE 4 MOBILITY?

In Wellington, Ollie Jones IV founded Hope 4 Mobility in 2010 when he saw a gap in services for parents with special-needs children.

“I have a daughter who was born with a rare condition that caused cerebral palsy, and it’s a struggle for my wife and I,” says Jones, also the director of Hope 4 Mobility. “I started designing equipment for my daughter, and I realized there are families with disabled kids who could not afford the equipment, so I created my program to help.”

With his engineering background, Jones started Hope 4 Mobility — his 14-year-old daughter’s name is Janae Hope Jones — to find, modify or even build equipment for special-needs children. He helps at least 100 families by raising money through donations, grants from the Quantum Foundation in West Palm Beach and an annual golf tournament.

There are no eligibility requirements, Jones says. “We’re going to continue to do all we can to help people,” he says.

For more resources for families raising special-needs children, parents and caregivers also can reach out to Unicorn Children's Foundation, which runs the local Special Needs Advisory Coalition of Palm Beach County.

And for families with children who have autism, Florida Atlantic University's Center for Autism and Related Disabilities is always a helpful resource.

SOURCES:

• Maureen Ashe, director of development, Clinics Can Help
• Ollie Jones IV, found/director, Hope 4 Mobility
• Patrice Schroeder, community relations specialist, 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast


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