The Community-Care-Van is gassed up and ready to go for another year, thanks to a generous donation from United Way of Greater Toledo.
Oregon Mayor Marge Brown said she was "elated" when she opened a letter from United Way on May 26. The letter stated that the organization was donating $30,000 toward the operation of the Community-Care-Van.
"It is such a blessing," Brown said, "because it helps the quality of life for the individuals in this entire area. God works in mysterious ways."
The van, which seats between 8-10 people, provides transportation to and from various appointments for local citizens. Brown said it costs approximately $45,000 a year to run the van.
"The only thing this money will pay for is for the gas and the drivers," she said. "Nobody else takes any money from this. We also get a contribution from the medical staff at St. Charles Hospital. They've given us $15,000 this year. With that, and the $30,000, we will run this van for another year."
The mayor added that The United Way donated $4,000 for the van less than two months ago. The van operates entirely on donations.
"We were getting really low on funds so The United Way gave us an emergency $4,000," Brown said. "That was an exciting time because we were hurting for money."
The Community-Care-Van made 125 one-way trips for local citizens in January, with that total climbing to 188 in March. The van will also bring citizens home from their appointments.
Brown said the Community-Care-Van was a project she helped put together when she took office in 2001, so that people could get transportation to and from doctor's appointments, physical therapy and other appointments. The van has been in operation with the City of Oregon since 2004.
"St. Charles quit doing it, so I received all the phone calls saying, 'How am I going to get to the doctor?' " Brown said. "We got together and said we have to do this. We bought the van for $1 from St. Charles. The City of Oregon's contribution is paying the insurance on the van."
Because the City of Oregon uses grant funding, Brown said the City is obligated to keep track of who uses the van's services. She said the majority of people are over 50 and Caucasian.
"When this first started it was used by (people in) Northwood, Lake Township, Millbury, Oregon, Jerusalem Township and Walbridge," said Brown, who added that Walbridge has since stopped using the service. "We pleaded with those mayors and township trustees to contribute to this, because we were picking up people from their area. We also go into Walnut Hills.
"We run it on contributions, and now this wonderful grant that we've gotten is going to help us immensely to continue on for a while and not be concerned with where we're getting our next dollar from."
The Community-Care-Van runs Monday through Friday. There are four drivers, all of whom are retired.
"They are a bunch of really great individuals," Brown said.
Kelly Kreps, media coordinator for United Way of Greater Toledo, said United Way expects to release all information regarding community investments on June 18.
For more information on Community-Care-Van, call 419-696-7404.