A $40,000 donation from the Northern Lights Casino will go towards a new mobility bus for the residents of Mont St. Joseph home.
The new bus means residents will be able to go on day trips, shop in local stores and interact with people in the community.
Lately, these opportunities have been scarce because Mont St. Joseph’s bus is a thirty-year-old mess, said Jennifer White, foundation coordinator. “You can’t even strap the residents in … there’s no heat, there’s no air conditioning, the ramp gets stuck so we can’t go anywhere basically,” she said.
Getting outside, especially in the long winters is important for the residents’ overall health, said White. “For their well-being it’s important for them to get out into the community and to be able to socialize and see what’s out there,” she said.
One full-time resident, Doreen Wright, said being out in the community, even if it’s just to shop for groceries, helps her “keep up with what’s going on.”
Both White and Wright are already making plans for the new bus, “We’re going to be able to take our residents to cultural events, Raiders games, Walmart,” said White.
“If we can have our new bus in time for Christmas, it would be wonderful to go see the Christmas lights,” said Wright.
The Northern Lights Development Corporation (NLDC), acting on behalf of the Northern Lights Casino, is hopeful the new mobility bus will improve the residents’ quality of life. “We’re hoping by providing the mobility bus they’ll be able to enjoy as their sunset years show-up, they’ll be able to enjoy what beauty Prince Albert and the North has to offer,” said Alphonse Bird, manager of the Northern Lights Developments Corporation.
Bird said Mont St. Joseph’s respect for the elderly is similar to Aboriginal culture and one of the reasons the NLDC contributed to the mobility bus. “In our culture … we have a great deal of respect for our old people and I know Mont St. Joes’ does the same,” he said.
The $40,000 donation won’t cover the entire cost of the vehicle, so the Mont St. Joseph foundation will add another $20,000 raised in the last year through fundraising efforts.
After a lot of research, the foundation decided to purchase a new “four-wheelchair passenger, four-regular passenger bus,” said White, a $60,000 vehicle.
An in-house recreational therapist will spearhead the development of programs that will incorporate the bus.
Mont St. Joseph home provides care for seniors, disabled people or anyone else who cannot live at home independently. It is operated by the Mont St. Joseph foundation, a not-for-profit organization.
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