A ride that cares

Rudy Norman
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Cleo Gillard enjoys visiting her sister who lives all the way across town in the other senior’s complex in Springdale.

Gillard, who lives in a cottage as part of the Valley Vista Senior Citizen's Home, says her visits with her sister, who lives in Springdale Retirement Centre, is something she thoroughly enjoys while she still has her sense of independence and good health.

Cleo Gillard (left) gets a ride with volunteer Wavey Oxford as part of Springdale’s new Care2Ride program.

“I usually try to get over there a couple times a week to see her, you know, to see how she’s doing and to have a visit.”

However, transportation is more of a burden for her these days, since Gillard recently gave her car to her son, who she feels needed it more than her.

Since then, Gillard has been without wheels – leaving her to rely on friends and taxi’s in order to get around and across town to visit her sister.

“I would have to call a taxi, which was $7  to get me to the home. Then if I had to go to a doctor’s appointment or shopping somewhere, that was more again.”

Gillard was happy when the Life Unlimited for Older Adults group announced it was bringing in the Care2Ride program, an initiative that sees volunteers pick up seniors who need transportation assistance, and bring them where they need to go.

“It’s a wonderful system,” Gillard said. “I call down to (program co-ordinator) Sharon Pelley and tell her when I want to go, and they arrange it all.”

Gillard says the program requires a couple of days’ notice, however that’s fine when it comes to her wanting to visit her sister, or having a doctor’s appointment. When the time comes for her pickup, Gillard says a volunteer arrives on her doorstep, and takes her where she wants to go.

Users of the service pay a small fee for the program. Gillard says she bought five tickets for $20, which is cheaper than the taxi ride she would have had to take before.

There’s also a bus service on Thursdays that takes users to shopping centres in town, should they so desire.

“I see it as something that a lot of people can take advantage of because we all need to get around somewhere and do things that we can’t always get around to do before.”

Gillard says while it’s summer now, and the service is in its infancy, not many users have taken advantage of it. However she feels when the weather deteriorates and more people are aware, it’s going to be a valuable offering.

“I hope people use it because it’s wonderful to have it here in town and to have access to something like it,” she said. “You don’t realize how good it is until you see it for yourself.”

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