‘They are my lifeline:’ Prince Albert senior helping fundraise for transportation service

Joyce Paradis, 82, is this year’s “Mary” for the Two Miles for Mary fundraiser, which supports the Community Service Centre’s Senior Transportation service. – Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

While Joyce Paradis loves to spend time at home knitting, baking or doing puzzles, getting out is a crucial part of the 82-year-old’s well-being.

She says that wouldn’t happen without the Community Service Centre’s Senior Transportation service.

“I said ‘I’ll represent you, because I believe in you,’” said Paradis. “When I pick something and I believe in it, I’ll fight all the way.”

Paradis is the face of this year’s Two Miles for Mary, a fundraiser to give seniors a safe, efficient and affordable option to get around Prince Albert.

Senior Transportation is a pre-booked service for anyone over the age of 60, and is mobility aid friendly – which Paradis said has been a barrier in the past when it comes to using public transit, a cab, or even acquaintances.

“They’ll say ‘I’d take you, but I don’t want your walker in my car because the walker dirties my car.’ That shows you how people treat seniors like us,” she said.

“Our seniors seem to be neglected.”

Paradis described the Senior Transportation drivers as “angels.” If she’s out getting groceries, for example, they’ll help her put her cart away and load her bags. Once she’s home, they don’t leave without knowing she’s made it safely in the building.

Just this past weekend, Paradis used Senior Transportation to go out for lunch at Bugsy’s, one of her favourite restaurants. Even though she enjoys walking to the library or to restaurants downtown, she still uses Senior Transportation for close trips in the winter because she can’t cross the street with her walker.

“I like to get out. If it wasn’t for them, I’d be lucky if I got out twice a month,” she said.

“They are my lifeline to the outdoors.”

Paradis added that the service is much more cost-effective than taking a cab. She said she purchases a booklet for $50 that gives her 10 rides per month.

‘We can’t leave them behind’

Bill Powalinsky is the CEO of the Community Service Centre. He said if seniors don’t have accessible means of transportation, they miss out on necessities like grocery shopping, medical appointments and prescription pickups, but also the freedom to have social visits, hair appointments or going to church.

“Seniors can be vibrant, contributing members to the economic and social fabric of the community, so we can’t leave them behind. We really need to be supportive of our elder population because they have so much to contribute,” he said.

Powalinsky said the CSC has been hit with inflation costs in recent years and, in particular, Senior Transportation has faced the skyrocketing costs of fuel.

“Last year, we got caught with the fuel prices. Nobody could predict that we were going up to a dollar-eighty something a litre.”

This year’s Two Miles for Mary is “absolutely vital,” he said. In the past, the initiative has remained steady at raising between $30,000 and $34,000, but Powalinsky said they’re aiming for $40,000 this year.

It’s already off to a good start, with the inaugural BBQ at Mr. Mikes last week raising nearly $900.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a large contribution or a small one, every little bit helps,” he said.

The Two Miles for Mary radiothon will take place from 8 a.m. to noon on Friday. You can call 306-763-MARY (6279) to make your pledge, make a donation in person, or e-transfer tmfm@pacsc.com

The Community Service Centre has also partnered with The S2DIO. You can purchase a clip for $10, with all proceeds going to Two Miles for Mary, and drop in to a spin class on Friday.