By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
An accessible van service is rolling again in Yukon.
Compassionate Hands, a non-profit helping ministry that has served Yukon for more than a quarter century, offers rides on its Care-A-Van.
“We’re back in full service,” Compassionate Hands’ director Joanne Riley said Thursday afternoon. “We’re still just taking one rider at a time, so advance scheduling is very important to guarantee you will secure a ride.
“We can’t take two people at a time, and both the driver and passenger must wear facemasks.”
There are two vans now running a full schedule – taking people to medical appointments, shopping trips and personnel errands. Medical appointments always take priority.
Each Care-A-Van takes riders within a 30-mile radius. Only Yukon-area residents age 55 years and above and people with disabilities are eligible for this free service.
“They must either live in the 73099-zip code or within the Yukon school district,” Riley said.
The service is available between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Compassionate Hands’ highly acclaimed transportation program had been suspended nearly two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The service went back online in mid-May, with procedures implemented to ensure the safety of both drivers and passengers – who are part of the vulnerable population.
“Our current drivers are Tom McCarley and Bud Kuykendall, and the van scheduler is our office assistant Colleen Green,” Riley said. “We’re still looking for a part-time driver to help a couple days a week.
“I wanted to personally thank Dennis Waller, who drove the van for several years. Dennis recently resigned to enjoy his retirement.”
The Care-A-Van fleet includes a 2017 Dodge Caravan and a 2019 Dodge Caravan.
“Both vans combined were driven 33,000 miles last year, although we only had the new van about six months,” Riley said. “If this (shutdown) didn’t happen, I believe we’d go more than 40,000 miles this year. But that won’t happen.”
Compassionate Hands started the Care-A-Van program in 1996 through the efforts of Anton Yanda III, Albert French and Carol Schweitzer.
To schedule an appointment, call 354-9591.