By IAN TULLY
---- — ROUSES POINT —The North Country Mission of Hope has once again found a way to share goods from the richest country in the Western Hemisphere with one of the poorest.
Mark and Lee Anne Lawrence, new owners of the long defunct Cedar Hedge Nursing Home in Rouses Point, have donated beds, side tables, night stands, light fixtures, kitchen supplies, room-divider curtains and much more to the Plattsburgh-based humanitarian-aid organization.
“The North Country has a way of always stepping up to the plate,” said Sister Debbie Blow, Mission of Hope’s executive director.
It will be a big job to load the items onto a tractor-trailer Friday, Oct. 12, and Saturday, Oct. 13, and then unload them at the mission’s storage facility on Sharron Avenue in Plattsburgh. Blow said Wednesday that about 20 volunteers had signed on to help.
She estimated about 10 more are needed.
Mr. Lawrence said when he and his wife purchased Cedar Hedge, which they intend to make into an assisted-living facility, he was unsure of what they were going to do with everything in it. After making numerous phone calls to hospices and clinics in the area, he wound up speaking to members of the the Mission of Hope Leadership Team and knew where the contents should go.
“I think it is fantastic,” he said. “My wife and I were hoping to be able to find a use for this stuff rather than be sold for scrap metal. It will be put to good use.”
The Lawrences’ gift is the single largest donation to Mission of Hope since the organization was given the contents of the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base hospital in 2004. Then, shipment of the equipment, valued at $1 million-plus, was paid for by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The Cedar Hedge equipment and furniture will remain in storage until the money is raised to fund the cost of shipping.
So far, that fund totals $2,500, a single donation from Champlain National Bank President Jon Cooper. The shipping will cost at least $10,000, Blow said.
“This is an extremely worthwhile cause,” Cooper said. “We have key members of the community that go and participate in the project (mission trips to Nicaragua). It has made such a significant change that I hope others step up and match the bank’s generosity so we can continue to improve the lives of people around the world.”
A KIND OF CLOSURE
It helps tremendously, Blow said, to have overnight use of a tractor-trailer donated by 3-J Fuels Inc., courtesy of owner Carl Smith. It will be driven by Daniel Rabideau, a volunteer whose grandfather, the late Maynard LaBarge, once lived at Cedar Hedge.
“This is wonderful,” said LaBarge’s daughter Rhoda Rabideau of Mooers Forks, speaking through Blow.
“Too bad that place ever had to close; they were wonderful to the people there.”
“People have expressed to me their gratitude that the beds that their loved ones slept in and the tables they ate at are being brought to another country where people need them,” Blow said. “I see this as a wonderful closure for people whose loved ones were at Cedar Hedge.”
‘ONLY SO FAR’
Kathy Eppler, Mission of Hope treasurer, said the organization has been fortunate with past fundraising efforts, and that it benefits from generous donors throughout New York and the rest of the country.
“The hardest part is getting (the equipment) there,” she said.
Dr. Roger Patnode, the mission’s medical director, said the Cedar Hedge donation will be put to use almost immediately after its arrival in Nicaragua. He has participated in mission trips multiple times and will spend two months there in January and February of next year.
He was excited to see the much-needed equipment put to use but added that it will only go so far.
“There is a hospital in Chinandega, where one of our colleagues just moved, that is in desperate need of equipment,” he said. “There were women who were lying on the floor; there weren’t enough beds for women that were in labor.”
— News Editor Suzanne Moore contributed to this report.
HOW TO HELP
Volunteers are sought to help empty Cedar Hedge Nursing Home on Oct. 12 and 13.
Donations to help fund the shipment of the equipment and furniture may be made at ncmissionofhope.org or send checks to North Country Mission of Hope, s/o Sister Debbie Blow, P.O. Box 2522, Plattsburgh, NY 12901. Reach Blow at 561-2599.