They may not have won an award but the team of volunteers behind the Raglan District Community Vehicle Trust are number one in the eyes of the many who rely on them to get the out-of-town healthcare services that they need.
The trust was one of 14 nominations for team excellence at Volunteering Waikato’s awards night held at the Atrium, Wintec, in Hamilton on Friday last week.
Trust secretary and treasurer Elspeth Ryan says the number of volunteers at the awards evening was “impressive” and “it made me realise how tiny we were and how few people we have to call on”.
Many of the volunteer organisations have big names behind them, such as Red Cross or Hospice, she says, and their operations “make you feel quite insignificant”.
Although the work they do is anything but.
The trust was started nearly 20 years ago to ensure that Raglan residents can get the healthcare services that they need. The van has a hoist for wheelchair access.
The majority of residents who use the transit van service are elderly, says Elspeth, and it ensures “they can stay in their own homes and get to their appointments”.
“They have enough to worry about without how to get there and how to come back.”
The Trust currently has eight drivers who provide a door-to-door service Monday to Friday, sometimes driving to and from Hamilton several times a day, to anyone who has no transportation to make a healthcare appointment of any kind.
“They’re awesome, says The Raglan House manager Mike Rarere, who nominated the team for the award.
The Raglan House takes the bookings for Community Vehicle Trust.
“The dedication is wonderful. The drivers are taking special care of the clients … making sure they are not stressed and waiting for them during appointment times.”
The Trust recently signed up its first two women drivers but is always looking for more volunteers.
“Most drivers drive once a week – you really have to have a few extras you can call on,” says Elspeth, whose husband, Terry, is a volunteer driver.
“Recruitment is not easy – there is a reluctance to commit.
“All our drivers are retired otherwise they couldn’t do it.”
The trust has seven trustees, including three who started the service nearly 20 years ago.
“They’re all about 90 now. Unfortunately, we have lost some along the way.”
Elspeth says one of the founders, Fred Gilbert, 90, accepted the certificate at the awards night on behalf of the trust.
“We persuaded him to come and made him go up on the stage to get the certificate.”