Back in full-service

Care-A-Van provided for seniors, disabled for medical appointments, errands

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Yukon Compassionate Hands’ director Joanne Riley (left) and volunteers Dr. Jason Brunk, Alycia Barry and Jaquita Icenhower stand with the new “Care-a-Van” after it arrived last year. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer

Yukon’s accessible van service – shut down two months ago due to the COVID-19 outbreak – will be back open fully next Monday, June 1.

The Compassionate Hands’ helping ministry will place its Care-A-Van back in full service starting next week to take senior citizens and people with disabilities to medical appointments and some personal trips.

Compassionate Hands, which has two wheelchair-accessible vans, has offered medical trips only in recent weeks.

“We will open up and expand to full-service June 1,” Compassionate Hands’ director Joanne Riley said. “Social distancing rules remain in effect. Only one rider at a time is allowed and both the rider and driver must wear masks.

Van rider Kim Quintana and her dog Lollipop complete a trip on Compassionate Hands’ accessible Care-A-Van. (Photo provided)

“Medical appointments have always been a priority. But we will also start back offering van rides for shopping trips and errands on June 1.”

The service is available, by appointment, to transport people on trips within a 30-mile radius.

The Care-A-Van takes elderly and non-ambulatory residents and people with physical disabilities to medical appointments, physical therapy and dialysis, the grocery store, library, senior center, and some personal errands.

“I am thrilled Compassionate Hands is resuming their van service,” Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby said. “This is very beneficial to so many of our senior citizens and handicapped citizens. I am very thankful for their tireless service to our community.”

Compassionate Hands’ volunteers use wipes and spray to sanitize the van after each trip as a safety measure.

Many riders appreciate the service and will offer donations to the van driver. However, drivers are not handling cash, so riders are asked to write checks instead.

Compassionate Hands will be seeking a new part-time driver to operate its accessible vans with the full service starting back up next week.

Compassionate Hands, which serves people in temporarily crisis by filling critical needs, has been in Yukon more than 25 years.

Its Care-A-Van is popular among the older, vulnerable population, so Compassionate Hands’ board members were forced to suspend the service in March because of concerns about the novel coronavirus.

For many years, Compassionate Hands operated one Care-A-Van but the demand had grown so much that the ministry in 2018 applied for and was awarded a federal Department of Transportation grant to fund a second van.

The new van arrived last spring.

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CARD PARTY CANCELED

Compassionate Hands’ next card benefit that was planned this August has been canceled.

The twice-annual fundraiser typically attracts about 100 players competing in various card and table games.

“Many of our regular participants are in high-risk categories so we’ve decided not to have it in August,” Riley said. “We look forward to offering the card party again in 2021.”

The helping agency relies on fundraisers like the card benefit and donations and grants to help people. A mystery dinner theater benefit that was set in March also was postponed due to the virus, with plans to reschedule this event next year.

A ministry of the Yukon Ministerial Alliance, Compassionate Hands since 1994 has helped struggling families with emergency rent and utility assistance, prescriptions, and personal and baby needs.

Compassionate Hands’ Care-A-Van program was started in the mid-1990s through the efforts of Anton Yanda III, Carol Schweitzer and Alberta French.

For more information about the Care-A-Van or other services, call the Compassionate Hands’ office at 354-9591 or visit http://www.compassionatehands.org