Public donations helped raise more than $70,000 for the new ‘Dream Machine’ mobility bus christened at the Sevenoaks retirement village at the start of Easter.
And the oldest resident, 97-year-old Margaret Twiss, was one of the first locals to try out the fully-equipped mobility vehicle.
It will transport up to four wheelchairs and occupants — or nine residents and the driver — on outings and shopping trips.
The Easter christening of the bus (on Maundy Thursday) was conducted by the Reverend Maureen Ellis, from St Paul’s Anglican church, a near-neighbour of Sevenoaks; and Margeret Twiss officially cut the ribbon.
Started and finished with a dream
Wendy Huston, CEO for the Kapiti Retirement Trust, says just over a year ago a small group of staff and residents came together with a dream — to get a fully fitted-out mobility van for the village.
She says: “We found a brochure with a picture of our ‘ideal’ vehicle, came up with the name, set up a fundraising barometer on the wall and it evolved from there.
“Our base line was that while we had a focus, the process of raising the money had to be fun and bring people together. It has most certainly done that with lots of amazing stories of generosity.”
Over $70,000 from fund-raising
“The full cost is just over $74,000 we set ourselves the 2012 calendar year to fundraise. And, in that time,we raised $70,118 with the shortfall being met by the Trust.”
The fully-hydraulic hoist, christened on the day by Margeret Ellis, makes entry safe and comfortable .
And the Toyota Hiace van, with long wheelbas, has numerous safety facilitates, including a reversing camera and easy-fit wheelchair fastenings.
So just how will the Dream Machine be used.
Wendy Huston explains:
“Its purpose is twofold actually: One, to take residents in our aged-care hospital –who are unable due to physical limitations to get out into the community — out on ‘field’ trips, both locally, for example down to the beach, or further afield, eg the licorice factory in Levin, or down to Wellington .
“Two: To enable people living in the Kapiti community to be transported to and from our day respite centre, the Nikau Club.”
Previously,she says, a minivan was primarily used to transport residents living in the Sevenoaks- Midlands Garden Village on regular trips to the mall an d library.
Apart from this use, it was available for some outings for those in the hospital but without a disability fitout or appropriate access into the van .
And, she says, until now people attending the Nikau Club have had to organize their own transport along with one of our staff using her vehicle to collect people.