In 1906, a group of Smithtown women had a generous idea - they wanted to comfort their community's infirm and ailing by loaning hospital and recuperative equipment to those in need. This became The Society for Lending Comforts to the Sick.
"Vail Blydenburgh and Faith Smith, a local insurance agent, a very kind and generous lady, just started it by lending out bedpans and crutches in 1906," said Dolores L'Hommedieu, former president of the society for 28 years. "In 1906, they didn't have the things that they have today. They didn't have walkers, hospital beds or any of the technology that they have today."
The society began purchasing new hospital equipment, through money raised through community fundraisers, and loaned it out for free to town residents. The impact on Smithtown was huge.
"When we held our annual fair, lunch-in and auction, the Bank of Smithtown and the Town Board would bid on a cake against each other," L'Hommedieu said. "That was one of the big things. People would come to be a part of it. The Town Hall and everybody came out. It was a big day in town when Lending had their fair."
The society continues its presence with Judith Fleming as their president and still operates as a non-profit, entirely volunteer run organization.
"The board consists of 12 women. Brenda Eddy ran The Comforts for at least 50 years," L'Hommedieu said.
The society;s warehouse, located at 71 Blydenburgh Ave., stores all equipment, like wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, canes, bath and shower chairs and benches. The lending hours are Monday through Friday 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. - 10 a.m.
The Comforts raise money through generous donations from supporters and through their Thrift Shop, open Tuesday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., where gently used clothing and household items are accepted.
Any additional funds go back to the community.
"They give out six scholarships a year," L'Hommedieu said. "They help people financially. If there is someone in really bad need of anything, they give back constantly to the community. Everything goes back to the community."