Since the early 1990s, A Community That Shares (ACTS) has brought relief to those in need by providing free home convalescent equipment to residents of St. Mary’s County. Lending out much-needed items like wheel chairs, walkers and hospital beds for as long as each person requires, the all-volunteer organization has positively impacted the lives of thousands of elderly and ailing community members. We spoke to Chip Burton, a volunteer with the organization, for this week’s Friday Focus.
Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)
A: A Community That Shares (ACTS) was started in St. Mary’s County in 1994 by several members of the Seventh District Optimist Club. While not affiliated with the Optimist, the ACTS warehouse and headquarters are located on the Optimist Club property in Avenue, MD. ACTS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides its services to the citizens of St Mary’s County. Its mission is to collect medical home convalescent care equipment, either through donations or through purchases using donated funds. When necessary, the equipment is restored or repaired and made ready for use by ACTS clients. The equipment is loaned, free of charge, for as long as it is needed. At any given moment, ACTS has 3,000 pieces of equipment in the community on loan. Over the years, ACTS has grown and just finished an addition to our warehouse that doubled the space. ACTS is staffed by volunteers and is open by appointment 5 days a week (Monday through Friday). Additionally, the warehouse is manned and open to clients on a walk-in basis from 12:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays.
Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?
A: Every day is a busy day for ACTS volunteers, but they all know the value of what they do and are enriched from their efforts when someone’s situation is so obviously improved by the loan of equipment ACTS supplies. On more than one occasion, I have been thanked by grateful clients that acknowledge that without our equipment, their lives would be very different. All these instances make everything we do memorable.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: Our greatest challenges are staffing and fundraising. We are always in need of volunteers and donations.
Q: What advice can you give someone looking to work at a non-profit?
A: Prepare yourself for the addictive feeling of self-fulfillment that comes with doing something meaningful for others.
Q: How can people get involved with your organization?
A: We encourage anyone interested in finding out more about ACTS to call our President, Sam Brown, at 410-610-8964 or myself, Chip Burton, at 301-769-2920. Additionally, if you have the time, stop by our warehouse on the grounds of the Seventh District Optimist Club in Avenue Saturday afternoons and look us over. If you hang around, we’ll put you to work! Our phone number at ACTS is 301-769-4199.