By Conrad Dudderar
A charitable service that has provided transportation to Yukon’s seniors and disabled residents for more than a quarter century will soon be getting some “new wheels”.
The non-profit helping ministry Compassionate Hands hopes to have its new accessible van “on the streets” by the end of 2022.
“A grant has been awarded from the federal Department of Transportation for a new Chrysler Voyager van,” Compassionate Hands’ Director Joanne Riley said. “This grant program was established to increase the mobility of the elderly and people with disabilities across the country.”
The $65,226 grant covers 85% of the new van cost. The local agency pays the other 15%.
“Our ‘card party’ benefit, other fundraisers, donations and sponsorships help with fuel, maintenance and staffing of our ‘Care-A-Van’ program,” Riley said.
The Chrysler Voyager will replace a 2017 Dodge Caravan that has logged about 96,000 miles.
“It is worn out and needs to be replaced,” Riley explained. “We are hopeful the new van will arrive by the end of the year.”
When it does, the Chrysler Voyager will join Compassionate Hands’ second van – a 2019 Dodge Caravan that “hit the streets” three years ago.
The Care-A-Van service transports senior citizens and people with disabilities to medical appointments, work and some personal errands.
“We average two to three new riders each week,” Riley emphasized. “The need is increasing because of the aging ‘Baby Boomers’ and the fact that Yukon has several senior independent living facilities.
“We drive more than 2,000 miles per month, serving about 150 riders in Yukon, Oklahoma City and Mustang,” she added. “To be eligible, you must live in the 73099 zip code or Yukon school district.”
Van drivers are Pat Bloodworth, Robert Brown, Richard Roper, Donna Yarbrough, and Lynn Yenzer.
“I love my job – more than anything I’ve ever done,” Bloodworth said. “I just love the people. They’re all so special.”
Anton Yanda III, Alberta French and Carol Schweitzer were instrumental in starting Yukon’s Care-A-Van program in the early 1990s when a group of civic leaders, local churches and concerned citizens formed Compassionate Hands.
A non-profit ministry under the auspices of the Yukon Ministerial Alliance, Compassionate Hands provides emergency relief for Yukon-area residents facing temporary crisis.
Besides the Care-A-Van transportation service, this Canadian County United Way agency offers a “hand up” by providing rent and utility assistance and personal care items for clients.
For more information or to support the program, call (405) 354-9591 or visit www.compassionatehandsyukon.com
Compassionate Hands’ supporters came out to “deal in” a good time at the annual Fall Card Party on Oct. 21 at Town & Country Christian Church, 2200 S Cornwell.
“It was a fun Friday,” Director Riley reported. “The players had a delightful day with fellowship and friendly competition playing their favorite games, such as bridge, canasta, dominoes and mahjong.”
Meanwhile, prizes were given out throughout the day.
“We had wonderful door prizes highlighted by a smokeless grill donated by Buddy Carpenter of Ace Hardware,” Riley shared. “Other door prizes were from The Arrangement, Earl’s Rib Palace, David Murphy-Keller Williams Realty, Ava’s Delights & Bites, and Marlene Boydston – in memory of our van driver Bud Kuykendall.”
Chick-fil-A donated 55 boxed lunches for the players and volunteers.
Other event sponsors were Becky Stevens-State Farm Insurance, United Pharmacy, Pecina’s Mexican Café, Weokie Credit Union, and Yanda & Son Funeral Home.
Some $1,500 was raised at the recent benefit to support the Yukon non-profit ministry.
“We look forward to having more players next spring,” Riley concluded. “To get an e-mail or postcard reminder, call (405) 354-9591.”