September 2015 Newsletter

Pulling up those sleeves for better health…

check up

One of our nurses on the Mobile Medical Unit sees a client

Seniors and those with compromising medical conditions such as Asthma or COPD can ill afford a bout with the flu. It’s more than just losing time from work – each year flu hospitalizes an estimated 200,000 people in the US, and more than 20,000 deaths are flu-related.

The Breathing Association’s HEAP medical clinics and our Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) make providing flu shots a top priority. By offering this simple precaution, we can protect the health of our most vulnerable citizens.  Be sure to get your flu shot too!

Boy Scout Troop #117 Rolled-Up their sleeves to help!


Thank you Scout Troop #117!

Thank you BOY SCOUT TROOP #117 for sprucing up our landscaping to provide a visual gift of caring to our clients!  These fine young men rolled up their sleeves to pitch in and spruce up the garden beds at our Old Henderson Road office, planting mums, weeding walkways and raking leaves to create a warm welcome to clients and visitors. We deeply appreciate their help!

Want to pitch in? Email or call Sue Swyt at 614-457-4750 ext 111 to join the fun!

Outreach to one results in help for the entire family …

In our August e-newsletter you read about our Summer Asthma Outreach program – working with youth sports camps to identify children from low income areas of the community who have asthma, and offer helpful resources. In many cases, connecting to one child allowed us to help an entire family.

Juliana is a young athlete who participated in the Columbus Crew SC Foundation’s Heroes League Soccer Camp, and she has asthma. She and her mother, Wendy, met with Breathing Association’s Registered Nurse, Joey Reed, during the camp. Upon learning about the help The Breathing Association could provide, Wendy scheduled a follow-up home visit.

During the visit, Ms. Reed learned that Wendy and Juliana’s young brother also have asthma. Juliana’s grandmother, who lives in the home, has COPD as well. The chance to help one person suddenly became the chance to improve the lives of four.

juliana and mom

Juliana and her mom, Wendy

Ms. Reed evaluated the family home and yard for allergens and triggers. She reviewed medications and medication delivery mechanisms used by Juliana and her family, and Juliana was given medication spacers to improve her medication intake.

We were able to provide the family an air purifier, allergy pillow covers and a vacuum cleaner to reduce dust and allergen triggers. A referral to our Medical Home Emergency Assistance Program (HEAP) program helped Wendy refill the home’s air conditioner coolant so the family could prevent breathing problems caused by over-heating.

Thanks to the generous support donors like you, the success of our summer Asthma Outreach program extended far beyond the children involved – it helped us provide better breathing resources and assistance to entire families. 

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August 2015 Newsletter

Smiles like this are what summers should be.  


Aeronna’s smile says it all

And for Aerrona it was more than just winning a cute stuffed animal. It was the air conditioner her mom was loading into their car after signing up for energy assistance at the Summer Crisis Health & Energy Fair at The Breathing Association on July 1st.

The fact is that summer is a time when many families can’t think about vacations or picnics or barbecues – the pressures of making ends meet don’t let up just because it’s summer, and can become as overwhelming as the stifling heat. Our summer HEAP energy assistance program and clinic services are one way families like Aerrona’s can get some relief.

Nearly 100 families attended the July 1st event to enjoy a free picnic lunch and sign up to receive energy assistance and clinic visits for the entire family. More than 20 area agencies set up booths to distribute information about available services, from housing to financial services. CLICK HERE for more information about our Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).


Kickin’ Asthma


Julianna learns more about her inhaler from Joey Reed

Having asthma doesn’t have to exclude kids from playing sports. That’s the simple message- and simple mission – for The Breathing Association’s Summer Asthma Outreach program.

Thanks to funding from The Columbus Youth Foundation and The Reinberger Foundation, we teamed up with several sports camps this summer, especially those serving children from low income areas of the community where breathing conditions like asthma occur at higher rates. Coaches received asthma awareness training from Joey Reed, Nurse Practitioner and Respiratory Therapist, while kids and their parents received educational information and options for getting additional help at home through The Breathing Association’s clinical services. 

Michelle Brueggeman, head coach for the Crew SC Foundation’s Heroes League summer soccer camp, says her volunteer coaches really appreciate the information and support. Nearly 100 children ages 6-9 participate each year in the free five-week soccer camp, which allows The Breathing Association to reach families with crucial follow-up services through these partnerships.

Fran Ryan to be honored at National Philanthropy Day celebration


Fran honored at the 2015 Mother’s Day Tea

The Central Ohio Chapter of The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) has selected Fran Ryan to be honored as this year’s National Philanthropy Day (NPD) Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser.  Fran Ryan was honored by The Breathing Association at their 2015 Mother’s Day Tea event on May 7th. 

Please join us in congratulating Fran for receiving this prestigious recognition and consider attending this year’s NPD event on November 24, 2015!


volunteer wordle 2


Air Waves – February 2015 Newsletter

lung imageDecline in Cancer Great News!
Still much to be done

The recent articles on the decrease in lung cancer rates due to a reduction in tobacco use and of second hand smoke goes beyond just “good news” – it’s FABULOUS NEWS! Moving the dial on lung cancer in our nation and in our community, and turning the tide on the huge public burden tobacco use causes is a great collective accomplishment.

Yet tobacco use still remains the leading preventable cause of death. Most smokers start before the age of 18. Forty percent of all children and seventy percent of black children in the U.S. are exposed to second hand smoke. Smokeless tobacco, including e-cigarettes, contains 28 cancer-causing agents (carcinogens). New research has discovered that smoking is linked to even more health issues, including kidney disease. Clearly there is still much more to be done.

The news that cancer rates are declining is great news. The news that second smoke exposure has dropped is great news. Those in our community who have helped make this happen should feel great! But we should go forward together with even more energy to push the numbers downward ever still – until tobacco use is a thing of the past. Won’t you join us?  

Kohl’s helps with Wardrobes for Warmth!  

We’d like to thank the Bethel Road Kohl’s for supporting our Wardrobes of Warmth campaign. Thanks to their special discounts, we were able to purchase warm hats, scarves and gloves to distribute to needy children and adults through our medical HEAP clinic.
Thank you Kohl’s!

Air Waves – January 2015 Newsletter


Asthma heats up when it gets COLD!

The cold Ohio winter creates special challenges for people with asthma – breathing in very cold air can trigger an attack, but when homes are more closed up in the winter, the indoor air can be unusually full of triggers such as mold and pet dander.

When the staff at The Breathing Association make home visits to people who suffer from asthma, they identify problem areas that can lead to an asthma attack – and a potential trip to the ER.

Here are a few of our tips for avoiding an asthma attack in the winter:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a clean scarf or face-mask when going outside.
  • Pet dander collects quickly in the home when pets spend more time inside. Keep pets out of the bedroom and vacuum more often.
  • Open up the windows on warmer days to air out your home and let dust and allergens escape, especially right after dusting or vacuuming. 
  • Avoid the common cold which can lead to an asthma flare-up – Get a flu shot, wash your hands frequently and avoid people who are ill.

For more information about managing asthma click here.

What is HEAT Insecurity? past due notice

Heat or energy insecurity means that a household is threatened with, or experiences, gas and/or electric utility shut-off. The heating season presents a special challenge for low-income families who are often forced to choose between paying utility bills and paying for food or other expenses. Living without heat in the winter dramatically increases the risk of illness and hospitalization for family members, exacerbates complications of chronic lung conditions such as COPD for the elderly, and threatens the long term health of young children. 

Ohio’s Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) assists low-income households with the costs of home heating. The Breathing Association is one of only two HEAP providers in Franklin County, helping thousands of struggling families keep the heat and lights on every winter. What’s more, for households receiving energy assistance from us, family members are also eligible to receive a free medical exam, flu shots and can received specialized care for chronic lung conditions. We are the only Franklin County HEAP provider that provides Home Visits to the home-bound or medically vulnerable.

Heat insecurity threatens the health and safety of the people The Breathing Association exists to serve. By providing heating assistance, we significantly reduce the severity and the incidence of lung health complications in this vulnerable population.


For more information about our HEAP programs, click here.

Air Waves – Winter 2014

Ronald’s Story 

Ronald breathes easier thanks to The Breathing Association.

Ronald breathes easier thanks to The Breathing Association.

“It’s great to be around, it’s good to be somewhere,”  is how Ronald Crowe feels these days.  He wonders where he would have been if it were not for the services of The Breathing Association.  Back in May 2012, Ronald found The Breathing Association on the Internet and headed into the Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) suffering from emphysema.

Things were not going well for Ronald at the time.  He had lost his HVAC job, used up his unemployment benefits, and then had to drain his 401K and savings. When he found The Breathing Association Ronald had no health insurance and was wondering what to do.

But the staff at the MMU knew what to do.  Upon arrival at the mobile clinic, Ronald was given a full checkup and immediately diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD.  The nurses were able to enroll him in a plan that takes care of the cost of the medications he needs.  They also found that he was suffering from high blood pressure and were able to get the needed medications taken care of as well.   A respiratory therapist from The Breathing Association followed up with an in-home visit and brought a Nebulizer machine to help Ronald breathe easier.   “They are very good to me and continue to take great care of me.  I don’t know where I would be without their help.  The nurses even call to remind me of my appointments.”

Ronald tells us he has his bad days and his good days and some that are in-between.  “But I am feeling better about life and the future.  I have hope.  With the help of The Breathing Association I don’t have to worry about the cost of the drugs I need to get better.  I wish there were more people like The Breathing Association.” 

Getting To Quit

“Most people who smoke want to quit,” says Doctor Tom Houston.  A member of The Breathing Association Board of Trustees (and past Chairman), Houston says most polls show about 70% of smokers interviewed want to stop.  Getting them to the point of “quit” is the hard part.

 Houston leads the team that offers The Breathing Association’s Tobacco Treatment Specialist  classes.  These courses follow the guidelines of The Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence (ATTUD).  Being one of just a few of those programs offered in North America brings participants to Columbus from around the Midwest and Middle-Atlantic states.  The classes are designed to “teach the teachers” who will go out and counsel smokers. “It is important,” says Houston, “to train as many counselors, doctors, nurses, and other health care providers as possible because smokers who go it alone have a high failure rate.”  He estimates only 5% of those who try quitting without the help of a professional actually succeed.  

 The classes offered by The Breathing Association center on psychological as well as physical  effects of smoking.  Houston feels it is important to show all sides of the addiction to a smoker.  He notes one important aspect that some may not think of when it comes to smoking is the mental health of smokers.  He points out that many suffering from depression or bi-polar disease also are addicted to smoking.  So it is important to consider both the mind as well as physical diseases such as Asthma and COPD when trying to persuade the smoker.

 Houston believes further adoption of laws that ban smoking in public places and increased tobacco pricing will continue to decrease the prevalence of tobacco use. While Ohio has adopted comprehensive smoke free indoor air laws, Houston says further increases in state excise taxes on tobacco are needed with the proceeds going to fund comprehensive tobacco control programs across Ohio.  He also credits recent blunt anti-smoking advertising as helping to turn the trend.  Meanwhile Houston adds The Breathing Association classes will cause a positive ripple effect, training more counselors to reach that 70% of the public who want to quit.

Our next Tobacco Treatment Specialist course will be held November 3-7.  Sign up for the classes is available through or by calling 614-437-1524.

HEAP Helps With Heat

Winter’s official start is a month or so away, but the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) at The Breathing Association is geared up and ready to help keep Central Ohio families warm.  “We want to encourage everyone who thinks they may be eligible for the program to make an appointment as soon as possible so that any wait for assistance can be minimized,” says Colette Harrell ,The Breathing Association’s HEAP Director. 

Last winter’s HEAP program was extended until the end of April due to the lingering cold and snow.  Harrell reports almost 9,900 people received assistance through The HEAP program at The Breathing Association during the winter of 2013-2014.  That was almost 16% more than the previous winter. Harrell fears the forecasts of a colder and earlier winter may push the applicant numbers even higher this year.

Harrell points out that the HEAP program not only can keep the heat on, it can result in better health diagnosis for recipients.  “As we sign people up for heating assistance, we have the opportunity to better understand their current medical conditions.  It is so important for those suffering from lung related diseases to have a healthy climate to start with.  Our staff is trained to reach out to applicants and make sure any other health problems they may be suffering from are addressed.”   Harrell adds in its less expensive in the long run to provide the applicants in need with heating assistance than to have to deal with medical problems made worse by chilling conditions in a home or apartment.

HEAP assistance through The Breathing Assistance is made possible through a partnership with the Ohio Development Services Agency’s Office of Community Assistance. 

Warm Wardrobes

“Bundle Up” is easy to say, but when your coat isn’t heavy enough or you don’t have a warm hat and gloves the winter months can be very cold.  That’s why The Breathing Association has the “Stay Warm, Stay Well” program for participants in need of warm winter clothing.  Cash donations are collected through the program and then The Breathing Association purchases the coats for “wardrobes of warmth.”

The Breathing Association staff recounts all kinds of chilling stories from last winter.  One worker tells of seeing a client on a 10 degree weather day with the client arriving wearing a hoodie and no gloves or hat to stay warm.  Another tells us of a pregnant woman applying for heating assistance wrapped in just an old blanket for her coat.  Still another client told workers how she and her husband share one winter coat because that is all the family could afford.

The goal of the program is to keep patients healthy as well as warm.  Leaders of the program remind that staying warm keeps new medical problems from starting and existing ones from getting worse. 

To donate to the “Stay Warm-Stay Well program, call The Breathing Association at 614-457-4570 or click on the “donate now” button on

The Best Defense

To borrow a bit from the football season that keeps many of us occupied these days, “the best defense is a great offense.”  Asthma is a growing epidemic whether it is diagnosed in kids or adults.   Working with a grant from the Harry C. Moores Foundation, The Breathing Association is going to boost its offense by stepping up its emphasis on proactive asthma care.  The goal is to keep people with asthma out of the emergency rooms and their symptoms under control. 

The grant has enabled The Breathing Association to buy HEPA Vacuum cleaners, room HEPA filters, allergy control mattress covers & pillow covers, air duct covers, dehumidifiers, nebulizer tubing, as well as allergy control carpet cleaning from Stanley Steemer. 

These supplies are headed for families who are unable to afford these helpful products and have an asthmatic in the home.  For more information please contact Colleen Wesley at 614-437-1526.  Willing to make a donation in support of our asthma and COPD outreach programs? Please click on the “donate now” button at or call 614-457-4570.




Air Waves – September 2014 Newsletter



Summer 2014 may turn out to be one of the cooler ones but the demand was hot for assistance through The Breathing Association’s Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).  Applications taken during July and August climbed almost 18% over last year to a record 4,229 households.  That included over 680 applicants who qualified for air conditioners or air conditioning repairs. 

“The need was great,” says Colette Harrell, HEAP Director for The Breathing Association.  “We will continue to be a beacon of hope for those in our Central Ohio community that are suffering through rough economic times and breathing problems.
Even now we are readying the assistance program for the upcoming busy winter months.”   

The Director of Lung Health Services for The Breathing Association, Renee Kirwan, points out “another benefit of the HEAP program is that we are able to identify individuals who can benefit from our other important programs.  On kickoff day alone 15 people were seen at our clinic who had been referred through the HEAP program.”

The Breathing Association pioneered the idea of air conditioning assistance under the HEAP program for households and individuals who meet the income and health qualifications.  Today’s program is administered in partnership with the Ohio Development Services Agency’s Office of Community Assistance. 



Asthma outreach programs of The Breathing Association have received renewed support from The Reinberger Foundation.  The Northeast Ohio organization has awarded The Breathing Association a $10,000 grant. 

President/CEO of The Breathing Association, Joanne Spoth welcomed the gift.  “We appreciate The Reinberger Foundation’s investment in our work to provide asthma outreach education and services to local families to help their children breathe easier and its alignment with their commitment to enhance the quality of life for individuals from all walks of life.”

“The Breathing Association has advanced it’s mission over time,” says Karen Hooser, President of The Reinberger Foundation.  “It serves the breathing issues of those in need today as it did the individuals affected by tuberculosis more than 100 years ago.  Asthma can be fatal but with education, healthcare and screening tools it can be managed.” 


For more information or to contact our Asthma outreach nurse, call 614-437-1526.