Seniors Helping Seniors continues to be a huge success in Fort St. James.
According to Judy Greenaway, one of the co-founders of the program, the program has really taken off.
“The services are being used throughout our area and it’s really building,” Greenaway said.
Mayor MacDougall of Fort St. James couldn’t agree more.
“We are a model for other towns. They are now looking at implementing a program like ours,” MacDougall said.
The Seniors Helping Seniors Program provides free transportation to those who face mobility challenges by providing grocery delivery, transportation to medical appointments and to social and wellness events in and outside of town including Vanderhoof and Prince George.
With 14 volunteer drivers, most of whom are seniors themselves, there are currently 114 registered clients. From January to July 2015, the service provided 309 rides to appointments and 219 separate trips driving over 25,000 kms.
“It’s brought new life to our Seniors Association here in Fort St. James,” Judy Greenaway, past president of the Association said.
Greenaway along with then economic development officer of the District of Fort St. James, Emily Columbo, both played an integral role in developing a strategic plan four years ago.
“There was an obvious need for transportation options for the seniors in Fort St. James,” Greenaway said.
The Stuart Lake Ladies Auxiliary was approached and a very generous donation of $30,000 was made along with other contributions from local businesses and corporations.
Julie-Ann Mortenson is president of the Auxiliary. “It was our wish to provide patients and residents with comfort and care. We thought this useful to our community and for our seniors,” Mortenson said.
As a result, a second bus was purchased and it made its first trip on Oct. 30.
“Social interaction for our seniors is an important part of their well-being. We are very proud of our service and thankful to the community for all of their support,” Greenaway said.
“It’s one of the best programs to come to the District. It’s had such an impact on the community,” said Larry Taylor, one of the 14 volunteer bus drivers.
The program is now running seamlessly and other communities want to know how Fort St. James did it.
Chester Hiebert, vice-president of the Seniors Association is thrilled with his new role and for him the service would not have been possible without volunteers.
“My whole idea is that the quality of any community is based on volunteerism,” Hiebert said.
“Here, in Fort St. James, people have really dug in especially with the Seniors Helping Seniors Program and that has enriched the community.”