Dealing with a vehicle on its last legs is no easy task. Replacing one with very specialized features – one suitable to transport disabled residents, carry up to six wheelchairs and adapt for easy boarding – means a considerable amount of money will also be involved.
As the staff at the Sunbeam Residential Development Centre know, the cost of such a vehicle can be upwards of $70,000. That figure looms large for the organization looking to replace the van that has been in use for some 15 years at its St. Jacobs group home.
“The van has been good to us for a good number of years, but time and the elements have taken their toll and we will soon have to look into replacing it,” said Sunbeam executive director Shaune Lawton.
The St. Jacobs Sunbeam group home is home to six young residents with significant physical handicaps, four of whom require wheelchairs. The van is used frequently to take the residents on day trips away from the home.
To help cover some of the costs, the St. Jacobs Lions Club will be presenting Sunbeam with a cheque for $5,000 – just a small part of the contributions made to Sunbeam by the Lions over the years.
“We started contributing to the fund last year,” said Lion Dennis Lougheed. “But it’s not a cheap undertaking and it may take some time to raise the amount of money that they need.”
The group home opened in 1982 and the Lions have been one of their primary supporters throughout the years.
“The Lions Club sort of adopted us when we first began in St. Jacobs,” said Lawton. “They have provided donations, they have replaced a furnace for the home and every year at Christmas they make a visit to the house to share in fellowship. They are a great supporter to us.”
But despite the most recent gift from the Lions, merely a fraction of the money needed for the van has been raised to date. The St. Jacobs facility is one of 14 similar homes in the Waterloo Region, all of which have their own costs and projects.
“Fundraising is a work in progress,” said Lawton. “We have some money tucked away for this project but it could take several years to amass enough money to replace a van like that. Providing a working van is just part of the work that goes into giving young men and women quality of life that we think they deserve.”
The Lions plan to continue to support the residents as best they can and hope that members of the community will also pitch in to help out.
“We haven’t been able to make a long-term pledge,” said Lougheed. “But we will do what we can, when we can.”
For more information about the Sunbeam group home or to donate to one of their projects, visit www.sunbeamcentre.com or call (519) 893-6200.