“We’ve partnered with Mont. St. Joe to give back a little bit to the people who are here,” Alphonse Bird, manager of the Northern Lights Development Corporation, told residents who packed the Mont. St. Joseph Home lobby for the announcement.
“We hope that with the assistance of the mobility vehicle, the old folks … will be able to see some of the beautiful things that nature has to offer,” Bird added.
Jennifer White, Mont St. Joseph Foundation co-ordinator, said the home’s current bus is about 30 years old and isn’t even fit for residents to be strapped into.
“We can’t even strap the residents in without them going loose in the bus. There’s no heat. There’s no air conditioning. The ramp gets stuck, so we can’t go anywhere, basically,” she said.
According to White, Mont St. Joseph had considered purchasing a seven-wheelchair passenger bus. But with a price tag of about $80,000, a more affordable four-wheelchair passenger/four-regular passenger bus was more realistic.
“That’s $60,000. So, with some of the other fundraising we’ve done during the year, we’re going to be able to get the other $20,000 from the foundation itself,” White said.
“We’re looking to purchase that vehicle right away,” she continued.
“We’re going Wednesday to check it out, and then it takes two months … It’s custom built, so it takes two months to get it built once you place the order.”
The home’s recreation therapist will accompany residents on the trips they will be taking with the bus. White noted the importance for residents to interact with the community.
“Imagine being stuck here. It’s a long winter, right? We’re stuck inside for eight months and the sidewalks aren’t clear -- let’s use this winter as an example,” she said.
It’s particularly difficult for residents who are on scooters and can usually be out in the community during the fall, spring and summer months, according to White.
“Right now, they’re trapped in here, so it’s vital to be part of your community and to be interactive and feel apart of the rest of the world,” she said.
Doreen Wright, a resident of Mont St. Joseph Home, reflected White’s sentiment.
“When you’re in here, you’re treated fine. We’ve got our own area. We can do things. But we don’t know what’s going on outside,” she said. “The way P.A. is growing, it’s a challenge for us to get out and see this.”
Wright touched on the condition of the old bus.
“I’ve never ridden in the old bus, but from what I’ve heard from those that drove it and those that were in it, it’s totally worn out,” she said. “It’s not safe to go on any trips. And when we get our bus, we’ll be able to interchange with other nursing homes, such as Birch Hills and back and forth.”