Get A Cane Bay Area is a nonprofit devoted to giving the ability to walk to those who cannot.
The organization was founded in 2020 to “mitigate some of the effects of inequitable access to Durable Medical Equipment (DME) which negatively impacts many disabled, low-income individuals,” said Dhwani Kharidia, the founder of the Bay Area chapter in Santa Clara.
“We believe that mobility is a right and should not be a privilege limited to those who can afford it,” are the words of Kharidia.
“We often throw away or hoard items that we no longer need, but I think it is super important to recognize that others may be struggling to obtain those exact items,” Kharidia said. “We need to reach out and see who in the community might be needing the items we take for granted.”
Get A Cane’s recipients mainly belong to low-income seniors or disabled individuals.
“Many of the people we help belong to the homeless population or are recent immigrants or visitors who do not have insurance,” Kharidia explained.
The organization collects used DME through donations to distribute to those who “might otherwise struggle to afford costly mobility equipment.”
Originally founded in San Diego, Kharidia felt it was important to bring the nonprofit to Northern California.
“I wanted to see if there was a need in the Bay Area community as well,” Kharidia explained. “I talked to a nurse at the Santa Clara senior center who informed me that many seniors face problems when obtaining DME since their insurance will only cover certain items.”
“For reaching individuals who need DME, we often have case managers and social workers who are connected with homeless shelters and other care organizations reach out to us if one of their clients are in need of DME,” said Kharidia when asked how Get a Cane operates. “Sometimes, individuals themselves will reach out as well.”
Ease of transportation is crucial to get the right mobility device to those in need.
“As many of the individuals we deliver DME to do not have transportation, we offer a delivery service as well,” said Kharidia.
“For more expensive items like electric scooters, we usually have a time limit, or if someone has had surgery or an injury, they must return it to us at the end of their healing period so we can give it to someone else in need,” said Kharidia.
Since supplies are limited, Get A Cane works hard to make sure items can circulate through the community.
“We have delivered DME to many senior living centers in Santa Clara, and we have learned a lot about the problems many individuals here are facing with DME access,” said Kharidia.
“Many individuals are unhappy with the DME that insurance has provided them,” she said. “Even with insurance, they still have to pay for a portion of the DME out of pocket, which can amount to a lot with mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs, which can cost up to $5,000.”
“In Santa Clara, we have noticed that the community is always wanting to help,” said Kharidia. “Many of our donations come from word of mouth, and we just love how the community shares and appreciates our organization.”
“Through the help of the Santa Clara County community alone, we have been able to collect over $15,000 in DME donations and have given DME to over 100 individuals and organizations,” continued Kharidia.
Get A Cane is currently seeking volunteers for help with deliveries and is also seeking donations. Anyone interested in helping the organization is encouraged to reach them through the contact form on the company’s website or by email.