I’ve been Executive Director of Catholic Community Service for almost four years now, and yet every day I learn something new about the wonderful work that goes on through the good work of our charity!
I want to share a story of how truly inspired our staff is in caring for those we serve, and how deeply we touch the lives of those it’s our mission to help.
Thank you for your prayers and support!
Erin Walker-Tolles, Executive Director
Catholic Community Service
A Juneau Care-A-Van Story about “Ruth”
Ruth is a long time Juneau resident who has lived at Wildflower Court for ten years and lived at the Mountainview apartments for years before that. Ruth is a highly social person with many of her mental faculties intact, but she also suffers from brain damage that inhibits her ability to keep track of days and dates, and she cannot track her appointments or schedule herself.
Just like all of us, being part of the community and getting around town is a vital part of Ruth’s well being and quality of life. Ruth needs a means of transportation that feels safe, doesn’t provoke anxiety or stress, and this is flexible so she can go out when she is feeling well.
So, Ruth has been using Catholic Community Service’s Care-A-Van paratransit service for more than 15 years!
Ruth is an independent person. She used to use a motorized chair that she used to go long distances outdoors, and she relied on it heavily to get around town. However, due to heart issues, she is no longer able to ride the chair over long distances. She has told us that without Care-A-Van she would be mostly confined to Wildflower Court. Over the years Ruth has used Care-A-Van to stay close to family. When her mother was at the Pioneer Home, she used Care-A-Van to visit her often, and she takes Care-A-Van to the cemetery to visit loved ones buried there. Ruth told us she wouldn’t be able to get there using public transportation. She has expressed that Care-A-Van is “an essential part of my life.”
It’s more than just a social service to Ruth. She has told us that she feels very connected with the Care-A-Van drivers. She said that back when she was using Care-A-Van to visit her mother at the Pioneer Home, every Care-A-Van driver would ask her how her mother was doing every time they saw her. Also, when she goes to the cemetery, the drivers make sure that she can get everywhere that she used to go in her motorized chair.
Ruth needs a lot of support to keep track of her schedule and attend appointments on time. However, the team at Care-A-Van help and accommodate Ruth so that she can get out into the community frequently to see her friends and maintain her social life. The Care-A-Van team keeps careful track of Ruth’s schedule of appointments and frequently checks with her to make sure that she is going to the right places at the right times.
She even told us that one time when she was out on the street and was very cold with no way to get home, a Care-A-Van vehicle drove by. The driver, who knew that it was unusual for her to be out at that time of day, stopped to pick her up and make sure that she made it home safely.
Care-A-Van is more than just a ride door to door. Ruth’s story shows the kindness of the drivers and the compassionate support of the Care-A-Van team. Their dedication allows her to schedule and ride Care-A-Van safely and confidently despite cognitive challenges—challenges that would make it problematic to use paratransit that isn’t run with the mission of supporting the independence and quality of life of seniors, and strengthening individuals with dignity, care and compassion!
Care-A-Van is a service partnership with the City & Borough of Juneau.