The Fort St. James “Seniors Helping Seniors” program, which provides residents with transportation to Prince George, is expanding to include Vanderhoof. The District of Vanderhoof has agreed to partner with Fort St. James in providing the program to seniors, something that Fort St. James’s Economic Development Officer Emily Colombo applauds.
“We [the District of Fort St. James] are happy to move forward on this,” says Colombo, who has been working on securing the agreement for several months. “We’re glad to have this partnership established, which will help people in Vanderhoof to age in place. It’s something we’ve wanted for a long time.”
Between January and July 2015, the Fort’s Seniors Helping Seniors program provided 309 clients with rides to appointments, made 219 trip in total, and covered a distance of some 25,406.4km. Colombo estimates that a third of the trips from the Fort have multiple users (up to six people can be accommodated per trip), which leaves room for others to use the service.
That the program is now accessible by people in Vanderhoof is seen as a huge success in helping to keep the service sustainable. As in the Fort, Vanderhoof residents will be able to book the service to transport them to healthcare-related appointments, and to and from the Prince George airport.
The current agreement with the District of Vanderhoof extends from Sept. 1 to the end of December 1915. “A new fiscal year starts in January, and we expect there would be discussion about renewing the contract with Vanderhoof at the end of this year or in January,” says Colombo.
Vanderhoof residents who want to register and book appointments can contact Vicki Larsen at the Nechako Valley Community Services Society (250-567-9205), who will pass the information on to transportation coordinator Yvonne Sam in the Fort. Yvonne will then get in touch directly with those who have booked, saving them the cost of a long distance phone call. “We want to make people in Vanderhoof feel it’s a local service,” says Larsen, who will track the number of people from that community who use the service. “There should be a lot of people interested in this, and we need to get the word out that the service is available.”
Anyone in Fort St. James who would like to register for the Seniors Helping Seniors transportation service should contact Yvonne Sam at (250) 996-8233. There is also a grocery delivery service that residents of the Fort can use; for information about that, contact Emily Colombo at (250) 996-8233. Anyone interested in volunteering as a driver should also contact Colombo at the above number.