Fingers are crossed at the Shuswap Association for Community Living that it will soon have a proper replacement for a van stolen earlier this year.
At the beginning of the year, the non-profit organization was the recipient of a donated van equipped with a wheelchair lift it could utilize in its mission to provide services and supports to adults with diverse abilities and their families.
“I think we had it on the road for less than two or three months and in March it was stolen…,” said SACL executive director Karen Hansen, adding the vehicle was located by Sicamous RCMP and was a write-off. Although it was insured, the insurance money covered only a fraction of the vehicle’s cost.
It didn’t take long for the community to pick up on the loss and businesses and groups began doing what they could to assist SACL with fundraising for a replacement.
In October, Hansen and SACL were able to pick up a replacement for “Barney” (the stolen van) from Braby Motors.
“Thank you to Braby Motors… for finding us a van to replace Barney,” SACL shared in a Nov. 2 post on Facebook. “Also big thank you’s to Shuswap Community Foundation, Women Who Wine, Grillers Meats Salmon Arm, for your partnerships and anyone else who donated to help make this purchase possible. Our hearts are full.”
Hansen is hopeful there’s more good news to come in the form of funding for another van. She explained how “many months ago,” SACL applied for a federal Rural Transit Solutions Fund grant that would allow the organization to purchase a brand new wheelchair van. Hansen wasn’t optimistic about it until recent, when she was contacted about the application and told it had merit but more information was needed. Part of that need included a letter of support from the City of Salmon Arm.
At its Nov. 14 meeting, city council received a letter from Hansen, in which she explained how the previous van was stolen and what it was used for, and asked for a letter from the municipality “confirming that the community is supportive of the transit initiative outlined in this project and that it does not conflict with any other municipal transit services offered by Salmon Arm.”
Council voted unanimously in favour of writing a letter supporting the SACL application.
If the grant is successful, SACL would be in a position to purchase a second van. Hansen explained this van would be the replacement for the wheelchair van.
“We purchased just a regular mini van so what I’m thinking we might do is, we’ve got an older van in our fleet and so we might sell that and use the van we just purchased to replace that, and then we would use the grant money to purchase a new wheelchair van,” said Hansen. “Our goal, if we weren’t successful in our federal grant application, we were going to purchase a regular van with the hope of modifying it at some point in the future when we raise enough money. This would allow us to add a newer vehicle to replace a very old one, but also meet our needs with the wheelchair van.”
The wheelchair van would be used solely for individuals served by SACL, which has been providing programs and supports in the region for 60 years.
Read more: New way to help SACL