Avens' new seniors' shuttle at its unveiling on December 18, 2020 in Yellowknife. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
Thanks to a hugely successful fundraising campaign, Yellowknife seniors’ facility Avens says it was able to buy an even larger shuttle bus than planned.
The new disability-friendly bus was unveiled at Yellowknife Motors on Friday afternoon. Avens chief executive Daryl Dolynny said generous donors took the amount raised for the bus past the target of $125,000 to a total of more than $140,000.
As a result, what would have been a 12-seat bus is now a 20-seat bus.
“It’s been a remarkable amount of money in a short period of time,” Dolynny said, noting the fundraising campaign had launched on September 8 and was expected to take five months.
Instead, it took four weeks.
“We were doing a fundraising in the middle of pandemic and you really don’t know what to expect. But the outpouring of support of donors far and wide, large and small, came together very shortly. In fact, we overshot our target, which is something you don’t normally do in fundraising,” said Dolynny.
“We raised the money in record time,” added Avens chair Marion LaVigne. “It’s just amazing what the businesses and people of Yellowknife will do for the seniors in this city.”
Avens’ old bus will be donated to a seniors’ centre in another community. It wasn’t able to operate in extremely cold temperatures like those seen in Yellowknife over the past week.
LaVigne said the hydraulic lift on the old bus “only worked sometimes.” With Covid-19 complicating matters, months have passed since seniors at Avens have been able to go anywhere.
Following the unveiling, a group of seniors was anxiously waiting for a ride around town on the bus. A tour of Christmas lights for seniors is also anticipated.
The new bus, Dolynny said, will help to reduce seniors’ isolation and get them to appointments safely.
“This allows them to have a lot more flexibility and mobility, which we wouldn’t have had because our bus would not have been able to operate during this colder weather,” he said.
“So having it early definitely gives us a leg up to do a lot of things that we weren’t planning to do. It’s great timing.”
“We have the potential for future growth now,” he said, noting Avens already has plans to expand.
The previous bus lasted 20 years. Avens expects the new bus will last “a lot longer than that.”