Yukon helping ministry feels pinch

Compassionate Hands sees greater need due to inflation, high utility bills, gas prices

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Compassionate Hands’ van driver Pat Bloodworth takes elderly and disabled residents to medical appointments, work and personal errands in the “Care-A-Van.” The nonprofit ministry is now spending an average of $800 per month to gas up its two accessible vans, already exceeding the $4,200 budgeted fuel cost in 2022. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

With plans to seek a new grant-funded accessible van, a Yukon helping ministry is feeling the pinch of high gas prices.

Compassionate Hands is taking more Yukon residents than ever to medical appointments, work and personal errands through its Care-A-Van program. This transportation service is offered weekdays to the elderly and disabled who live in the 73099 and/or Yukon school district.

There are two accessible vans, 2017 and 2019 models, and both have been busy in 2022.

“We’re now paying about $800 a month to fuel up,” Compassionate Hands’ Director Joanne Riley said. “For 2022, we budgeted $4,200 for both vans. It’s just July, and we’ve already surpassed that $4,200 mark.

“We budgeted the van fuel cost according to the previous year.”

In the second quarter of 2022 from April through June, the vans were driven some 9,000 miles.

The 2017 van already has logged over 90,000 miles. Riley will apply for a federal grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation to fund a replacement.

The grant award is expected to cover 85% of the 2023 van cost, with Compassionate Hands paying the rest.

When the agency bought its last van in 2019, the price was $44,000.

“This van is going to cost, base price, over $72,000,” Riley shared.

Both vans are desperately needed, she noted.

“We’re inundated with requests and we’re getting new riders almost every week,” the director said.

Under the auspices of the Yukon Ministerial Alliance, Compassionate Hands has served Yukon-area residents in temporary crisis since 1994.

The organization acts as a clearing house, networking service and referral agency to provide services and support while encouraging positive life change.

Compassionate Hands’ office assistant Donna Yarbrough encourages to public to donate personal care items like these to help Yukon residents facing temporary crisis. The Yukon service agency has seen an increased need due to inflation and high electric bills. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)
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MEETING THE NEEDS

“The number of people who need help paying their rent and utilities has increased tremendously with inflation and OG&E bills,” Riley said. “It’s really rough on people out there.

“I ran out of budgeted funding for July last week.”

Compassionate Hands is now helping an average of 23 households with 70 members per month.

The supply of many personal hygiene items like deodorant, shampoo and toilet paper also is running low. Donations of laundry soap and size 6 diapers are badly needed.

“We’re almost out of everything,” Riley said.

Yukon Compassionate Hands’ board members are Chair David Murphy, Vice Chair Woody Burpo, Secretary Janis Thomas, Treasurer Lisa Everly, Ray Rhoton, Alycia Barry, Amy Beams, Jason DeGroot, Homer Cobb, Amy Bowles, Michael McEachern, Rosalia Pecina, and Sherry Poage.

They oversee a non-profit that relies on grants, fund-raisers and donations to serve Yukon clients.

For more information or to contribute, call Compassionate Hands at (405) 354-9591 or visit compassionatehandsyukon.com.

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