Due solely to lack of funds, some people are living in a world of silence with no hope. Lend An Ear Outreach, Inc. (“Lend An Ear”) was created in March 2012 by a group of four women who saw the impact of hearing loss on the elderly. Lend An Ear’s mission is to make the gift of hearing available to all low-income people, beginning with seniors over the age of sixty in our Northeast Florida community. We have seen first-hand how the gift of hearing has restored people back to a world of promise and the enormous difference it has made in the lives of seniors. Our organization has recently been granted the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status, and we look forward to beginning our journey to help our forgotten seniors regain the gift of hearing.
It became apparent over the past several years that hard of hearing and deaf seniors with low incomes have been forgotten. Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids; therefore, many seniors who could otherwise continue to be a valuable part of our society are rendered helpless because they cannot hear and cannot afford the cost of hearing aids. Hearing loss has been linked with a variety of medical, social and cognitive ills including dementia and Alzheimer’s. A new research study by Johns Hopkins University suggests that hearing loss may be a risk factor for dementia, and using a hearing aid during the early stages may even prevent some forms of dementia.
After much research, we discovered that used, or no longer needed, hearing aids could be easily recast and refurbished to fit another person. Lend An Ear was fortunate to find caring audiologists who have committed to providing free examinations and, upon verification of need by their diagnosis, volunteered to recast and fit the used hearing aids donated and collected by Lend An Ear to qualified seniors in our area.
Working with the elderly has afforded the officers of this organization great contacts with a variety of associations now willing to help us with our mission, including the Society of St. Vincent DePaul, the American Legion, various continuing care retirement communities, assisted living and nursing home facilities like Fleet Landing and Vicars Landing located in Jacksonville, Florida, and Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, respectively. Numerous churches, like Our Lady Star of the Sea and many others, have agreed to help collect donations of hearing aids and presently have Lend An Ear drop boxes. Health providers like Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute, Americare, Haven Hospice and others have also come forward to help in our cause to bring the gift of hearing to those who have been lost in the system.
Our goal is to provide the gift of hearing to at least twenty-five seniors within our first twelve months of operation. Applicants will be required to fill out an application to determine their eligibility, and our services will be provided at low or no cost depending on income and/or need.
At present, we cover the cost of refurbishing for use a pair of hearing aids. For those who cannot afford the fee, Lend An Ear will cover the cost through funds made available from donations, grants and fundraisers. We currently have no longer needed hearing aids in our inventory to be refurbished by Lend An Ear’s audiologists. We continue to receive donations daily, thanks to the many caring individuals in the community. At this time, the organization has no paid staff, and the Board and volunteers are responsible for all operational activities.