Solecito Services, 25 years of servicing West Valley
Leslie Tuohy, Executive Director of Solecito Services, with the large number of walkers the nonprofit organization has to loan.

In 1982, a small group of employees of Boswell Hospital conceived an idea to furnish medical supplies and equipment to those who needed home care. Originally, the founders of the nonprofit organization Solecito Services, had office space at Valley View Hospital in Sun City. In 1983 the organization moved to 8320 W. Madison St., with funding provided by the City of Peoria. Solecito Services has been there ever since. Now, they serve the entire West Valley, including Peoria, Glendale and Luke Air Force Base.

Solecito, which means “a little bit of sunshine” in Spanish, loans home health care equipment, including wheelchairs, crutches, canes, hospital beds and more to those who cannot afford retail prices. Any equipment with wheels requires a doctor’s prescription.

Each piece of equipment is loaned out for six months at a time at a small donation price.

“The loan period can be extended beyond the six months for someone who is terminally ill, for example,” said executive director Leslie Tuohy. “Our services are needed to borrow equipment by people who need to recover from a surgery or deal with a long-term illness.”

“We do operate like a regular retail store,” she said.

A customer comes in and asks for the piece of equipment needed.

“But we only ask for donations, whereas a retail store charges hundreds of dollars,” Tuohy said.

Most of the equipment is also donated, “but we also do buy new pieces when the money is there,” Tuohy said.

Solecito, like other nonprofit organizations, receives most of its money through grants. Solecito gets its money from the City of Peoria, the City of Glendale’s “From the Heart” group and from the Virginia Piper Trust, a private foundation, that gives endowments to nonprofits. From the Heart is the City of Glendale’s partnership that puts residents’ donations to work. All donations are tax-deductible.

“It is very difficult to find money to stay afloat. We always need donations. Grant money only goes so far,” Tuohy said.

Solecito Services has about a dozen volunteers that provide record keeping, inventory maintenance and equipment repairs. Solecito Services uses industrial germicides to sterilize the equipment once it is returned.

“Some of our volunteers have been here for 15 years,” Tuohy said.

The busiest time for Solecito Services is the winter.

“A lot of snowbirds come here (to Arizona) to have elective surgeries done. They need our equipment to recuperate. Instead of spending that time in a recovery room, they can be at home,” Tuohy said.

Solecito has many types of customers, including the elderly on fixed incomes, but it is also for people who just don’t have the extra money to spend on this type of equipment.

“We are absolutely successful, it is difficult for a small local nonprofit to last. And we have lasted 25 years this coming April,” Tuohy said.

The hours of operation are 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday; and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday. For more information, call (623) 876-5331, or e-mail solecitoservices@aol.com.

Reach the reporter at swayne@star-times.com.