By Miriam Ostermann, Associate Editor
The Wheatland Housing Management Body (WHMB) is closing the gap on its fundraising goal to purchase an activity bus, providing an opportunity for increased participation at Wheatland Lodge.
Over $19,000 – or two-thirds – of the estimated cost of purchasing a used 15-passenger vehicle has already been acquired through donations made by the residents’ families, local service groups and Strathmore’s financial institutions.
As no such vehicle is currently in the non-profit organization’s possession, and any outing currently requires the assistance of the Handibus, where space is limited to six people and one staff member, the new activity bus will provide a greater opportunity for more seniors to partake in community activities.
“When we put out a sign-up list, the first six to beat it to the board get to go and the others don’t … and that is our intent of this bus, to give them options and independence to be able to go and do things,” said Vickey Cook, chief executive officer with WHMB.
“It would offer opportunities for our seniors to participate in all levels of community life and that’s what we’re here for. We pledge to serve our residents in a way that recognizes and respects their spiritual, social, physical and intellectual needs by allowing each one to maintain and enjoy the maximum level of independence possible.”
The idea behind the activity bus is not to provide general transportation. Rather, the organization will utilize the vehicle to transport its residents to attend community events and outings such as the Celebration of Lights, local sporting events, field trips to Kananaskis Country, the golf course, Aspen Crossing, dinner theatres, shopping trips and school productions in which many residents’ grandchildren are involved.
Wheatland Lodge, which currently houses a maximum of 95 residents, will continue to rely on the service of the Handibus to transport its seniors to their medical appointments and to fulfill their personal errands and everyday travel needs.
“Our objective is not intended to replace the service of the Handibus, but to collaborate and support one another in providing the best possible service to our seniors, as many residents access the Handibus for medical appointments and personal transportation and will continue to do so,” said Cook.
“The Handibus is still very supportive … and we’d still be supporting the Handibus.”
The majority of Wheatland Lodge residents do not drive, although 16 individuals still have access to their vehicles and a current driver’s licence.
To continue the fundraising drive for the new bus, Wheatland Lodge is hosting a bake sale on Dec. 9 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.