By Treena Mielke
The wheels of the Rimbey Handivan Society have been turning for 25 years, providing a much needed service to the community.
President Don McFadyen said the society was incorporated in 1986 and has had only two presidents; he and Neville Roper.
“Neville talked me in to taking over a few years ago,” he said. “And I’ve been doing it ever since.”
The 2006 six-passenger handivan can accommodate two wheelchairs along with its passengers and has a lift as well.
“More than 50 per cent of our people need the lift,” McFadyen said.
The van is busy, sometimes picking up as many as 20 passengers in a day.
“Most calls are health-related,” he said. “We try to accommodate everyone. We will even pick up mail or a few groceries just to help out those who have trouble getting in and out of the van.”
He said the society now has six regular drivers and one spare driver, but more are always needed.
“With the number of drivers we have now, it means someone is on call once a week every six weeks. If we had eight drivers it would be once a week every eight weeks.”
McFadyen said drivers are all volunteers and are happy to help out and provide the service.
“It’s not just the drivers who volunteer. The people at the hospital, they do our bookings and they are all volunteer as well.”
Operational funding is always a concern as volunteers run the service, he said. To help make ends meet, a $5 user fee is charged. The fee was raised from $4 when the price of gas increased. The fee includes a round trip to and from the pickup location.
Funding also comes from provincial and municipal governments.
“The town and county have helped us out a lot and the Rimbey Legion supports us as well,” McFadyen said.
The handivan is a necessary service in Rimbey, helping to meet the transportation needs of young and old, he said.
“Even a mother with young children who has no way of getting groceries, we would help her out. We help everyone we can. For sure, I don’t know what Rimbey would do without it.”
Anyone interested in volunteering as a driver for the handivan may contact Don McFadyen at 403-843-2861.