Thanks to a successful community fundraiser, Avens, the Yellowknife seniors’ facility, has retired their former 22-year-old shuttle bus and replaced it with a new one. 

The new bus, unveiled Friday, will transport residents to medical appointments, errands and to visit sites around Yellowknife. Avens touts the shuttle service as instrumental in preventing social isolation for residents. 

Avens launched Operation Care on Wheels in September with a goal of raising $125,000 for a new vehicle in five months. In just over one month they had already surpassed their goal and raised $140,000. 

Daryl Dolynny, Avens CEO, and Bronwyn Watter, Avens board member and Chair of the Fundraising Committee, present that back of the new vehicle. Photo courtesy of Bill Braden.

Avens CEO Daryl Dolynny said the shuttle service is vital in combating isolation and accessibility and that the community’s support demonstrates how much they recognize the need for the bus. 

“The outpouring of support is pretty special,” he said. “We were taken aback by the generosity.”

Greg Boucher is the dealer principal at Yellowknife Motors, the dealership that sold the new vehicle to Avens. In a press release announcing the bus’s unveiling, Boucher too expressed how “wonderful” it is to see how Yellowknifers and the business community “have so quickly come together to make this new mobility vehicle a reality through the difficulties of Covid-19.”

Dolynny said the team at Avens were purposely generous with the fundraiser’s timeline because they didn’t know how successful they would be in asking for money during a pandemic. He said they were “surprised” to raise the funds in just over a month, calling the fundraiser’s success “a Christmas miracle.”

In fact, Dolynny said they had a hard time “pumping the brakes” as donations continued to pour in after the fundraising deadline. 

Operation Care on Wheels’ follows Avens’ equally successful Tree of Giving campaign. Dolynny said “the community came out in spades” and that they are “very, very thankful.”

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