By Conrad Dudderar
A Yukon nonprofit ministry that provides a van service for local elderly and disabled residents is feeling the pinch from high gas prices.
Compassionate Hands operates two accessible passenger vans though its “Care-A-Van” service. The vans transport Yukon’s elderly and disabled residents to medical appointments, employment, shopping, and limited personal errands.
“Fundraisers like our spring card party on April 22 (see related story) really are critical to helping pay to operate our vans, especially now with the rising fuel costs,” Compassionate Hands’ director Joanne Riley said.
Gas prices have jumped to more than $4 per gallon at many places across the Yukon area.
“It costs in excess of $500 per month just to buy fuel for our Care-A-Van program,” Riley explained. “We’re fortunate that J&T Auto and Brotherhood Garage provide free oil changes.”
For 2021, the Care-A-Van service helped 1,112 seniors and 612 residents with disabilities get where they were going. The two vans totaled 3,255 trips with 30,147 miles driven.
The vans take passengers to destinations within a 30-mile radius.
“We not only drive people to local appointments, but we also go to Oklahoma City daily,” Riley said. “We average six to eight dialysis patients weekly.”
As Riley emphasized, it takes money to operate both vans – with fuel, insurance and maintenance. Van expenses in 2021 totaled $35,836.
Maintenance costs are increasing on Compassionate Hands’ 2017 model van, which has logged about 80,000 miles.
“We will be applying for a federal Department of Transportation grant so we can eventually get a new van that will replace our aging 2017 van,” Riley noted.
Compassionate Hands’ 2019 van – on the streets since that spring – has around 40,000 miles.
There is no charge for the Care-A-Van transportation service. If a client can donate, Compassionate Hands askes for $1 for trips inside Yukon city limits and $5 outside city limits.
Rides are normally scheduled between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Van drivers are Bud Kuykendall, Bob Brown, Donna Yarbrough, Lynn Yenzer, Richard Roper, and Dennis Oclary.
YEAR IN REVIEW
Riley shared other highlights of Yukon’s Compassionate Hands for 2021.
“We served 333 households with 791 individuals, with 339 under the age of 18,” she reported. “We helped 143 people with rent and 148 with utilities with total assistance of $49,965.”
In 2021, contributions from churches totaled $56,729 and contributions from individuals totaled $21,546.
For the year, Compassionate Hands received several grants – notably $12,000 from the Yukon Community Support Foundation, $10,000 from the Sarkeys Foundation, $7,250 from the Canadian County United Way, and $5,000 from the Cox Foundation.
The nonprofit received another $7,500 as an award winner in the “community” category by the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits.
Learn more by calling (405) 354-9591 or visiting https://compassionatehandsyukon.com/