Cottonwood, Connolly, and Cypress Lodges have launched a fundraising campaign with the goal of $260,000 to purchase a 2022 RAM Wheelchair accessible van.
The new vehicle would enhance the quality of life for 64 residents living with persistent mental illnesses.
“The new vehicle will provide opportunity for more residents to participate in outings on a more consistent basis. Not only will increased seating capacity allow for more passengers on each outing, the accessibility will provide opportunity for residents with limited mobility,” Eagle Ridge Hospital Foundation’s Executive Director Kristina Chung says.
“Community integration is an important aspect of the residents’ recovery journey. Often, when residents go out into the community, even for a simple cup of coffee, they report feelings of enjoyment, satisfaction and peace. There are endless benefits of community integration outings – fostering social inclusion, reducing psychological stress and increasing sense of belonging.”
The current vehicle serving these lodges, part of the Riverview Redevelopment Project through Fraser Health, is not only outdated but lacks crucial features. It poses safety concerns and its limited seating capacity severely curtails the number of residents who can engage in communal activities. Moreover, its lack of wheelchair accessibility excludes those with mobility challenges, robbing them of opportunities for recreation and community involvement.
“Residents require access to community health care providers, recreation centres and other community resources, and with the limited capacity of the current vehicle, the amount of residents who can access the community regularly is impacted,” Chung says.
The new van promises a considerable upgrade. It will be equipped to seat 10 passengers and accommodate two wheelchairs. Beyond just a transport upgrade, the van symbolizes inclusivity and a commitment to holistic care.
“The anticipation of consistent outings will provide residents with a sense of hope and something to look forward to,” Chung says.
The outdated vehicle's issues don't stop at limited seating. Its recurring need for repairs has led to inconsistent availability. The residents, particularly seniors at Connolly Lodge, find it arduous and, at times, unsafe to board or alight from the current vehicle.
The staff at the lodges have consistently observed the therapeutic impact of community outings on residents. For many, these trips offer a break from routine, a touch of normalcy, and a reminder of the world outside.
“By creating positive and meaningful memories for residents, the sense of integration and belonging in the community will affect other aspects of their lives. Feelings of accomplishment and pride for the progress made in recovery and rehabilitation will provide improved self-esteem and confidence, which are key factors when living with mental illness,” Chung says.
The new van is a step toward ensuring that every resident, irrespective of their physical abilities, feels valued, included, and heard.
The lodges call upon the community for support to meet their fundraising goal. The mission is clear-cut: a vehicle that promises not only transportation but a brighter, more inclusive future for its residents.
To make a contribution today, visit www.erhf.ca