Angel Bus fundraising campaign initiated

GORE BAY—Residents of the Manitouln Lodge Nursing Home in Gore Bay are literally waiting for the bus with a fundraising campaign having being initiated by several area residents to have a bus purchased to take residents to local events and area trips.

“I volunteer at the Lodge and when we moved here in 2009 my dad had a moderate stage of Alzheimer’s disease and passed away three years ago,” said Sandy Cook. “I’ve spent a lot of time helping out at the Lodge and one of the things I hear from the residents the most is that they aren’t able to get out to attend events or go on sightseeing or on shopping trips.”

Ms. Cook is a member of the Angel Bus committee, which also includes Jan and Don Bainbridge and Ted Kilpatrick.

Ms. Cook explained the Angel Bus would be an accessible bus owned by the Gore Bay Manitoulin Lodge Auxiliary Inc., a charitable, non-profit organization. The purpose and objectives of the auxiliary are to advance the social, recreational, athletic, cultural, leisure and spiritual interests of senior citizens and individuals in need of long-term care and palliative care, aged 18 years and older, who are residents of the Gore Bay Manitoulin Lodge Nursing Home and other senior citizens who are residents of Western Manitoulin.

If the fundraising campaign is successful, the Angel Bus would ideally hold a minimum of two residents in wheelchairs and eight to 10 other passengers. And when it is not being used by residents of the Lodge, the Angel Bus will be available to transport other Islanders on a cost recovery basis.

Ms. Cook explained the initial fundraising goal is $50,000 to purchase a used bus and cover the cost of running it for two years. This should give the committee time to get annual fundraising events in place. Annual operating expenses are estimated at $15,000.

“The Gore Bay Manitoulin Lodge Auxiliary Inc., a charitable non-profit group, receives monetary donations through in memorials and they have used this money in the past to purchase such things as exercise bikes, bed alarms, and other items. They will own the bus. We are a sub-committee that will raise funds for the purchase of the bus and ongoing annual expenses.”

“We are now officially fundraising money for the bus,” said Ms. Cook. “A new bus would cost at least $75,000 so we are looking for a used model. We expect a used bus will cost between $25,000-30,000 to buy it, and $15,000 to run it on an annual basis. We are hoping to eventually get a roster of five drivers for the bus.”

“Yes, we will be approaching a lot of different organizations, businesses and individuals for support,” said Ms. Cook. “The $50,000 goal is to purchase and run the bus for a couple of years. It would be used for things like taking the residents out to see the Christmas lights in town, plays and events at C.C. McLean School and sight-seeing trips and maybe the Espanola Mall for shopping and then Chinese food afterwards.”

A sign unveiled last week for the fundraising campaign sign (which was done by Ms. Bainbridge) states, “Got places to go, things to see, but we’re waiting for the bus!”

“I think this is a fantastic initiative and is really needed to provide an opportunity for Lodge residents to get out for events and activities,” stated Gloria Hall, activities coordinator at the Lodge.

“It will provide the residents greater opportunity to go out and see the fall leaves, go for ice cream on a Sunday in the summer, view the Christmas lights, and go to Espanola on shopping trips, and other things. It would be great and add to the social life of the residents,” said Debbie Wright of the Lodge.

“I think this is a very good idea,” stated Lodge resident Ida Nelder. She and other Lodge residents were on hand for the official start of the fundraising campaign all said it was an excellent idea.

“I can hardly wait,” stated Marion Turner.

Ms. Cook noted she has June as a goal for the fundraising to be done, and noted that for anyone making a donation income tax receipts are available. “One church group has already made a donation of $250,” she said.

In an email sent to Ms. Cook January 20, 2015, Reverend Sherry De Jonge explained, “your note of mentioning St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Kagawong will delight the members of the congregation. This was a freewill offering made via the annual Vestry meeting to express the heart of the congregation and its commitment to community-building.”

Anyone wishing to help with his or her time, or donate money to this project, is asked to either call Sandy at 705-282-8876, or email at theangelbus@hotmail.com.