Vivian ChuiOmineca Express
More transportation for medical appointments and more activities are going to Vanderhoof’s seniors, thanks to new funding from district and regional programs.
In partnership with the District of Vanderhoof, the Seniors Helping Seniors Program from Fort St. James is now offering free transportation to seniors in Vanderhoof for medical appointments in Prince George.
A program that has been operating for Fort St. James since 2012 — 139 trips to Prince George last year — the idea to extend the service to Vanderhoof has been a discussion between the mayors, as the drivers already pass through the district, said Emily Colombo, Fort St. James’s Economic Development Officer.
“It’s one local phone call,” said Colombo, as Vanderhoof Seniors Connected’s coordinator Vicki Larson takes in registration and forwards client information to the program’s coordinator to arrange transportation.
Twelve volunteer drivers currently operate two vans, picking up and dropping off clients at Vanderhoof’s A&W Restaurant on Highway 16 — Seniors Connected will be helping with transportation between the client’s home and the fast food outlet.
Seniors can book anytime and the program operates seven days a week, dependent on volunteer availability, though it’s rare that volunteers weren’t available for a trip, Colombo said.
Also going to Vanderhoof Seniors Connected is $10,000 from United Way’s Better at Home program, which recently expanded to the region — including Fraser Lake and Fort St. James — in July.
United Way has already been providing funding for Vanderhoof’s seniors through its Northern BC branch, and the additional funds allow for more services, said Vicki Larson, the program’s coordinator.
“Seniors can stay home longer instead of going to care home,” she said and she encourages more citizens to register — there are currently 65 active registrants.
For Marge Unruh, one of the volunteer drivers, and who has been involved with the program for more than two years, Seniors Connected helps to gather people together.
“I know how important it is for people to get together, they get lonely,” Unruh said. “Even I get lonely too.”