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These seniors won’t have to wait for the bus anymore (3 photos)

Fundraising pays off; new Finnish Resthome residents bus to be delivered next summer

After three years of fundraising, the Ontario Finnish Resthome Association (OFRA) has purchased a new, much needed wheelchair accessible bus for its residents.

The new $160,000 bus, to be delivered in July 2020, will allow OFRA residents to take part in group outings around town, will seat 16 residents and up to five wheelchairs.

That’s an improvement from the current bus, which can seat 12 residents who are mobile and without wheelchairs (with storage space for walkers), or six seats can be folded up to accommodate residents with wheelchairs.

Money to purchase the bus came from OFRA’s Harvest Fest Draw, bi-weekly 50/50 draws and various other draws.

OFRA residents, staff and volunteers were officially notified of the bus purchase by Todd Slotegraaf, OFRA board chair, at a Christmas party held at the rest home Wednesday afternoon.

Slotegraaf expressed gratitude to approximately 120 OFRA volunteers and staff who have sold tickets for the rest home’s various draws over the past three years, and over 300 Sault and area businesses who have allowed OFRA tickets to be sold on their sites.

“I thought if we can raise just enough money to buy a new piece of equipment for a resident, that would be great. We never expected to be this successful with our lottery,” Slotegraaf said, thanking OLG for its guidance.

However, in years of fundraising, OFRA has been able to purchase safety features for the facility, carts for residents rooms (with casters, shelving and outlets for up to six electrical plugs), music and memory programs, bowling and curling sets, speaker systems, lifts, exercise equipment, wheelchairs and other items.

Since 2016, OFRA has sold approximately 15,000 tickets with net proceeds of $179,000, Slotegraaf said.

Along with additional seating, the new bus will include a ramp, allowing everyone to use the same entrance door, creating a sense of equality among all passengers. 

Other features include a back-up camera and more comfortable seating for residents and the driver.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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