Having a mobility issue is like being a prisoner in your own home, according to Reverend Ken Siemens of the West Kootenay Chaplain.
But he’s doing everything he can to prevent it with help from the All the Way Home Chaplaincy board, by helping people overcome a series of emotional and physical burdens that come from health problems.
For some, the burdens meant forfeiting health treatments due to the high costs of transportation.
When All The Way Home began in 2009 the organizers quickly realized that providing transportation was a huge part of helping out those in need.
And when All the Way Home purchased a wheelchair accessible van that same year, the barriers for people in need began to disappear.
“We’re providing assistance to people with mobility issues, principally that’s people in wheelchairs, to attend to medical appointments, dental needs and social activities,” Siemens said.
“The van is really only a part of what we do, but it is certainly a big part of what we do.”
But the organization needs help to continue and is calling on the community for donations to pay off the remaining $7,000 loan for the purchase of the van and make this service accessible to the people who need it.
“When we first bought our van, the predecessor to this one, if you’d have asked me if there were any wheelchairs in Trail, I probably would’ve said a few,” Siemens added. “Until you actually start meeting the people and realize that we have got a lot of people with mobility challenges.
“But healthy people tend to see right past them.”
During the first month of service, in August, the van gave more than 100 rides. It has been in service for two months and provides service by donation for dental appointments, eye care, medical attention and some shopping trips within Rossland, Trail, Fruitvale and Genelle.
“We even have calls from the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital to transport patients who are being discharged with no means of transport,” he said.
Recently the Trail-Tadanac High School graduating classes of 1949 and 1950 rounded up a $600 donation for the charity.
“We had leftover funds from the seed money at our reunion,” Ted Heslop said. “And this seemed like a good cause. It was the right thing to do.”
And the organization’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, another Trail man added.
Sunningdale resident Steve Pershing had one leg amputated two years ago, a result of a case of gangrene spreading from his foot into his shin. Recently he has been struggling with the other leg.
“Ken has been a lifesaver,” Pershing said. “For instance, I had one time that I had to get up there at six in the evening and Ken got me up there. HandyDart won’t do anything for you after 3 p.m. because they want to be back in the depot by 4 p.m. and signed out.”