© Herald photo by Tyler Clarke
Past “Mary” representatives Margaret Laird and Sharon Jaeger, from left, share a laugh at the Two Miles for Mary breakfast at the Kinsmen Community Heritage Centre on Friday.
A dedicated core of people are instrumental in the city’s senior transportation program’s continued success -- many of whom gathered on Friday morning.
While a row of volunteers manned phones for the program’s annual fundraiser barbecue and Country 900 CKBI Radio radio-a-thon, additional supporters gathered for a by-donation breakfast at the Kinsmen Community Heritage Centre.
One table stuck out due to the bright colouring of ladies gathered around it.
Sporting their namesake headware, the Prince Albert Red Hat Society was in attendance to support the Prince Albert and District Community Service Centre’s senior transportation program.
“Each year we collect our junk coins -- little stuff -- and we choose a charity to give it to,” member Dorothea Herron explained. “We always want it to go to a local charity.”
A donation from the society is rare, since they’re a social group and not a service organization, she explained, noting that their slogan is “Fun and Friendship After 50.”
But, the seniors transportation program is dear to Red Hat Society members’ hearts due to the recent passing of former driver Norm Lumb, husband to society member Val Lumb.
At least one of their members uses the program, Herron said, citing this as further reason for their support.
Another notable table was that of past “Mary” spokespeople Margaret Laird and Sharon Jaeger.
The annual radio-a-thon is called Two Miles For Mary -- a name that represents the average distance seniors have to travel for life’s necessities. Every year, a “Mary” is selected to represent the cause, with this year’s Mary Rubena Wenzel.
Laird has served as Mary twice over the annual event’s 26 years -- first in 1995 and again in 2006.
I think the program is just excellent. Margaret Laird
“It’s an honour” to serve as Mary, the 94-year-old senior transportation user said.
Laird has been without a vehicle for about 24 years, and she’s found seniors transportation to be an ideal means of getting around the city.
“I think the program is just excellent,” she added, noting that it’s affordable at only $4 per ride anywhere in the city -- a rate the Two Miles for Mary fundraiser allows the Community Service Centre to continue offering.
Jaeger is last year’s Mary, and has been without a vehicle ever since her husband -- her personal chauffeur -- died about four years ago.
“After my husband passed away, I was taking taxis and it just got too expensive,” she said. “Then I found out about the Two Miles for Mary and got some information and started using it … It’s just convenient.”
Wenzel was also present at Friday’s breakfast and received an ovation as she entered the room. At 99 years of age, she said that the affordable nature of seniors transportation combined with its accommodating drivers has kept her calling the centre for rides.
By the end of the two-hour radio-a-thon, Country 900 CKBI Radio announced a fundraising total of more than $22,000.
For more information on seniors transportation and to pledge donations, visit their official website, online at http://www.pacsc.com.