Back on the bus: Sydney nursing home get new wheels just in time to view fall colours
HALIFAX -- Thanks to the support of their community, residents at a Cape Breton nursing home have a new ride, just in time for the final weeks of fall colours.
Residents of Sydney’s MacGillivray Guest Home are finally able to get back on the road, thanks to a new wheelchair-accessible bus that arrived in their parking lot this week.
“I haven’t been on it yet, but it’s gorgeous,” says resident Millie MacDonald.
The arrival of the bus comes after two years and nearly $100,000 in community fundraising.
MacDonald says she could hardly wait to buckle up and go for a ride.
“I said, ‘Thank God, we finally got a good bus',” says MacDonald. “What they do with the other one, I don’t care, we enjoyed it anyway.”
The old bus had served residents well, but after more than a decade of use, it was showing its age.
The new bus has double the wheelchair capacity, from two spots to four.
Meaning more residents like MacDonald will get to enjoy scenic drives around Cape Breton while the famous fall colours are still here.
“It was a long, two-year journey trying to fundraise for the new bus,” says Kim Hooper, director of Recreation and Volunteer Services at MacGillivray Guest Home. “The excitement in the whole building was overwhelming.”
The arrival of the new bus was timely, allowing residents to get out on day trips before the winter weather sets in, and ahead of a potential second wave of COVID-19.
“Isolation is a huge downfall in this population for sure,” says Hooper. “It was a major impact on our residents, so just to get them out of the building, a change of scenery, even just an afternoon drive for an ice cream or a cup of tea. It just works wonders.”
“Oh, it’s like heaven to get out,” affirms MacDonald.
The seniors who live at MacGillivray Guest Home haven’t been out for a bus ride since March, when the COVID-19 crisis first arrived in the Maritimes.
Officials with the home credit the fact that even during the pandemic, the community, with the help of a big online fundraiser, were able to help them come up with the last bit of cash.
“Thank you. All I can say is thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” says Hooper. “What you have done for the residents, there’s no words to describe how they’re feeling today. Just a huge thank you from everybody here.”
Once the bus is inspected by vehicle compliance, they’ll finally get to rev up the engine and hit the open road for the first time.