CARE chest helps children, families

Nanette Sison knows the freedom a wheelchair can bring.

As program coordinator of CARE Chest, Sison helped place a wheelchair with a mother of two daughters, 5 and 8, who had been homebound for eight months.

"Because of this wheelchair, she is so excited to take her girls out to the park and to the mall," she said. "And the kids are all over the chair, fighting over who gets to push her."

CARE Chest is a nonprofit agency that provides free medical supplies such as wheelchairs, crutches, bandages and nutritional supplements to Northern Nevadans in need.

The agency also covers up to $100 in prescriptions ranging from antibiotics to lice shampoo for children of low-income families.

Sison and program manager Gina O'Banion visited Carson City schools Wednesday in an effort to inform parents about the services available.

"If they come in when a child first gets sick, they can nip it in the bud before it becomes serious," O'Banion said. "It not only helps out the family but the taxpayers as well."

She said the program saved Nevada taxpayers about $2 million last year by preventing serious or lengthy hospital stays by treating an illness early.

"Even if you're just talking about something as simple as lice medication," O'Banion said, "through us providing the lice shampoo, we can stop that from spreading to 30 different families."

Founded in 1990, the agency is funded through grants and private donations.

It sanitizes and distributes medical equipment and secures low-interest loans to help remodel homes to accommodate disabilities.

So far, the agency has served 2,500 people this year.

"The great thing about this job is that we always have beautiful stories to tell, from seniors to children," Sison said. "When we address one child's needs, the ripple effect is immeasurable."

To apply for the program or to make a donation, call 829-2273.


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