The Emo and Rural Handy Van has gotten a major boost from the provincial government, with $18,000 soon to be heading into its bank account.
Barb Duguay, Emo and Rural Home Support supervisor, said the funding covers close to three-quarters of the handy van’s budget for the next year—and will ease a very tight noose for the Emo “Meals on Wheels” committee.
“This van has been running for over two years on donations only and no government funding," Duguay said. ”Right now, we run a very tight budget.
“This will loosen the pressure off the committee," she added. "It also was intended to keep the cost as low as possible to the client.”
But the real benefit is the fact that money raised from the community over the next year can go towards a fund for buying a new, larger van.
“We were not able to build up a fund to replace this van before," Duguay said. "And [the service] has grown so we need a much bigger van.”
But getting this provincial funding doesn’t mean the fundraising will stop.
“It’s one-time funding," she said. "I don’t think we’ll cut our fundraising efforts because that money we’ll give to our replacement fund.”
Duguay also stressed the program couldn’t have run as long as it did without the tremendous support from residents and businesses in the Emo area.
The grant comes from the Community Transportation Action Program, which was formed from several different provincial ministries.
Diversity was the key to getting the funding, Duguay said, noting successful applicants had to share services with different communities and associations.
The “Handy Van” program, which runs in three other municipalities outside of Emo, is linked to the Emo hospital, the physiotherapy department, the day hospital, and few other organizations.
Still, Duguay noted getting the funding was no easy task.
“There were other towns in Northwestern Ontario that started on this grant and gave up,” she said, noting several letters were written back and forth before the money came through
She added some paperwork revisions still had to be done before the funding is actually received.
“[The grant] is a real gift," she said. "We were really lucky to get it.”