It's time for a new Handi Van

The Carman Handi-van board had to make the tough decision to increase fairs in 2019 to help with upkeep of the vehicle and now it's time to search for a new van as well. (supplied photo)

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The Carman Handi Van has been serving members of the community since incorporation in 1986 and the board of directors is now in a situation where funds are low and a new van is needed to continue offering the important service to the hundreds of customers who use it.

“The Handi Van is extremely important to a lot of people in Carman that are seniors or mobility disadvantaged, and we stretch mobility disadvantaged right to anyone without a vehicle,” said board member and administrator, Kathie Findlay. “We don’t have any other means of travel for people in Carman, there is no cab system, and we are pretty much the system for people to get around town”

The Carman Handi Van is used for general things by its customers like doctors meetings, shopping in town and any sort of other appointments that may arise to those without a vehicle or way to get around. As of December 2018, 167,000 kilometres had been put on the van since purchase five years ago. Sometimes it will make a trip to Winnipeg but it’s mostly used for of trips around the town of Carman.

Board chair, Ken Stevens, says they haven’t had to worry about any type of outside help in previous years thanks to the strong work of the previous board, who put quite a bit of money away thanks to the community auctions once held by the group.

“We haven’t had to ask the community for funds because of all the donations and fundraising that happened for us,” said Stevens. “Now we’re at a crossroad and we need some outside money. I think we can say this, we either need money to carry on with our day-to-day expenses of the van or we need help buying a brand new Handi Van.”

The group has been putting $10,000 away for the start of the Handi Van purchase since 2013 and is now sitting at $60,000 in the bank, which will go toward the $100,000 cost of the new van depending on the model of the van that the group decides to purchase.

“We haven’t seen any of the vans yet but the last one was $80,000 and we had that money from the Handivan Auctions, and that got to a point where so much stuff was coming in that wasn’t sellable so they had to drop the particular event,” said Findlay. “We have seven sponsors on the van and we know for a fact that they will want to do it again. We may be able to fit more advertisers on the van but we haven’t seen them yet.”

Nearly 300 people use the Carman Handi Van on a regular basis, with someone needing a ride every 12 minutes. It’s meant for people with lower incomes, seniors that don’t drive anymore, and even young mothers without a vehicle needing a ride with their child. The people in the community are well aware of the services offered thanks to strong work by the board.

“Our rate went up January 1 to $4 a ride or 11 rides for the price of $40. Rides are considered one way as a trip to the store and home will count as two,” said Stevens. “We are the third cheapest (Handi Van) in the province. We should probably have it higher but we want to keep the costs as low as possible. We’ve made sure the town knows how to get a Handi Van if they need one.”

The group is hoping for donations from businesses and locals, as well as some support from the Town of Carman and the RM of Dufferin, as both have been approached for support. There is also a fund set up at the Carman Area Foundation that people can donate straight to.

“We always get donations from the public,” adds Findlay. “We have a great relationship with the Active Living Centre, and they take a day trip once a month. They take a group of seniors to Winnipeg for an event like a trip to the human rights museum or a show, things like that.”

The first fundraiser for the Carman Handi Van will be Trivia Night set for February 15 at McGee’s Restaurant at the Carman Golf and Curling Club. The event gets going at 7 p.m. with a $10 registration fee per person.

“We usually have about 8 groups of 10 questions and our bonus questions,” said Findlay. “We didn’t get a prize this year, but most people that come out aren’t coming for the prize, they’re coming to support the Handi Van. We also get donations that night plus the 10$ entry fee so it turns out to be a great time.”

Interested players are being asked to pre-register for the event by getting in touch with Findlay or Gail MacLean by Friday, February 8. Contact Kathie Findlay at 204-745-2916 or MacLean at 204-745-2702.

The group has appointments booked next month to look at different options of Handi Vans and the costs associated with each.

Contact someone from the Carman Handi Van board to make a donation. The Carman Handi Van would like to thank their seven sponsors for their support: Access Credit Union, Homestead Co-op, Chicken Chef, Carman Ford, Benefits RX, Gallery Dental and MMJS Law Office.