Cliff Reed, (President of the Wetaskiwin Lions) -James Taylor (Treasurer, Wetaskiwin Lions) Barb Fowell (Wetaskiwin Lions) Larry Fowell (Wetaskiwin Lions) Glen Zahara (Wetaskiwin Lions) Mark McFaul (President, WCTS)
Each step of the process went smoothly. A white 2000 Chevrolet 3500 Cutaway handi-van sporting a ‘Sundre’ decal above the rear door pulled into the City of Wetaskiwin maintenance shop and went up on the hoist. City of Wetaskiwin mechanic Brian Walker conducted a mechanical inspection and verified the vehicle was in acceptable shape. Former owner Jerry Leussink, Rocky Mountain Charters handed a set of keys to the new owner, the Wetaskiwin Community Transportation Society represented by Alderman Mark McFaul. Perhaps the most important step in the entire process was when Cliff Reed, President of the Wetaskiwin Lions rolled out another cheque that he presented to McFaul to complete the van purchase.
The Lions Club decided back in July of 2011 that the purchase of handi-vans is needed and would benefit the community. They set aside $5000 of their casino funding every year to assist with purchase of vans. On July 25th, 2011 they made a substantial donation of $30,000 to the Wetaskiwin Community Transportation Society (WCTS) for their first purchase of a van. Club President Cliff Reed describes their financial support. “The values of the Lions are to work for others. There is no ‘self’ in Lions. Another value of Lions is the family….The Lions Club is a family working together to do the things needed in the community where the government doesn’t find enough money”.
Byron King, WCTS states the 2000 handi-van from Sundre was of great need. “After its last Commercial Vehicle Inspection, the WCTS was advised by the City of Wetaskiwin's mechanics that Unit 9 should be replaced as soon as possible. As luck would have it, the Wetaskiwin Lions had some excess funds to disburse of so the WCTS submitted a letter requesting financial assistance to purchase the 2000 handi-van.”
Jerry Leussink, owner of the van explained the chain of events leading up to the purchase. “I purchased this unit from the Sundre Community Van Association and was part of that Association as well. I had my own charter business called Rocky Mountain Charters renting out buses to community and any other groups that needed charters in the three western provinces.
They (Sundre Community Van Association) were having some difficulty selling it at the time. Because they wanted to purchase a new one immediately I said I would buy it and add it to my charter business. I also told them I could use it to back up the Sundre Community Van Association when there was a need for someone to go somewhere in a wheelchair and the other van was taken.”
King comments. “When the Sundre Community Van Association (SCVA) decided to purchase a handi-van with greater wheelchair capacity, one of its volunteers took the vehicle off of their hands thinking he would use it for his charter service. As it turned out he never really used it too much and now he is downsizing his business as he prepares for retirement and so the vehicle became available for the WCTS to purchase. This handi-van will be designated Unit 12 and will replace Unit 9 in everyday use while Unit 9 becomes an emergency back-up.”
Lessinuk is confident the van will serve Wetaskiwin well. “It’s only got 107,000 km. on it so I would say if it is well cared for you could get 20 years out of it. So, I can’t see why this van wouldn’t give another 10 years as I have seen these units that have 400,000 kilometers when used a lot in the larger centres.”
Mark McFaul, President of the Wetaskiwin Community Transportation Society calls it a win-win situation. “We purchased a bus from Sundre that is fairly new and with low mileage. This van will increase the reliability of the transportation system in Wetaskiwin. One thing I would like to say is my unconditional gratitude to the Lions Club of Wetaskiwin. They are like our guardian angels. Whenever we are come up short with funding for buses, the Lions always step up to help us provide this valuable service to our seniors and persons with disabilities. I cannot say enough about the Lions Club.”