It Takes a Village

A young man in a wheelchair smiles from his patio.

Tyler at home

The Massachusetts Alternative Finance Program makes a critical difference for a single mom and her son’s security.

Last fall Lynne Tucker realized, all at once, that she needed a whole-house generator. High winds had taken out the power in Pembroke and for three days she’d had to travel to where she could charge her son’s durable medical equipment. “It was already unsustainable,” she says. “And then I thought, what if this were January?”

Lynne is a divorced mom of two sons who both receive Disability. Tyler, her youngest, is 13 and relies on a food pump, two nebulizers, a suction machine, a cough assist machine, and an oximeter. His room was built on to accommodate his hospital bed and includes a mini-split for electric heat. Without power, Lynne realized, his room would freeze.

“The stress was too much. People would say, ‘If you lose power just take Tyler to the hospital.’ But he’s big now, taller than me. Getting him up and ready, packing his bags, his meds, and 12 hours worth of food (it always takes the hospital 12 hours before they get his meds and food right), it’s too much. Plus every time I go, my other son–who has Asperger Syndrome–needs someone checking in on him.”

Just the year before, Tyler’s care had transitioned to being “complex.” He’d always had medical needs, but now his seizures had stopped responding to medication and he required the addition of a food pump. For Lynne, there was suddenly a lot to keep up with. Still, it took the high winds of September to get her to Easterseals.

“I’d known about them for years, so I decided to check them out. Easterseals is wonderful.”

The generator cost over $9,000, unaffordable for a single mother who is a full-time caregiver. Easterseals and Lynne worked together to find a creative solution.

“The gentleman I worked with was communicative and caring,” she emphasizes. “He helped direct me.”

Easterseals manages the Mass. Alternative Financing Program (AFP). With its partner, Santander Bank, the AFP’s AT Loan Program helps people with disabilities and families purchase the assistive technology and services they need with a low-interest loan and better terms than what is traditionally available. The program is overseen by a committee that understands the lives of individuals and families with disabilities, and works hard to find its way to “Yes.”

“It’s not always possible,” admits Steven Crays, Easterseals AFP Coordinator, “but Lynne’s case was urgent and her resourcefulness impressive.”

Lynne reduced the loan amount she needed to $6,000. “I got $1,500 from BAMSI [Brockton Area Multi-Services, Inc] and another $1,500 from the Giving Angels. I came up with $500 in cash, myself.”

Still, the bank wouldn’t approve her application. “They didn’t want to take on the risk,” she says. “And it’s understandable. I was already paying off $26,000 on my accessible van.”

That’s when Easterseals went the extra mile.

“I couldn’t believe it. They took on the risk themselves. I was just amazed. Easterseals guaranteed my loan.”

Lynne now has a Generac that kicks on automatically should the power go out. It can run everything: her fridge, lights and Tyler’s heat, and equipment. She’s making payments of $108/mo. and she’s picked up transporting Tyler home from school, a reimbursable expense that is helping her afford the payments.

“Easterseals is a lifeline,” she says. There are now two other families within a mile of Lynne who also have children with equipment but don’t have generators. If there’s a power outage, she says, they can come to her house.

“And I can be their lifeline too.”

Learn more about the Massachusetts Alternative Finance Program

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