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Alzheimer Society hits the road with two new vans to help clients, families

June 7, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Brock Weir

John and Melanie Wladyczuk don’t know what they would do without Patrick Kwan.

A dedicated volunteer driver with the Alzheimer Society of York Region, the Wladyczuks rely on Patrick to help get their mother to and from day programs that prove beneficial to both caregiver and client week in and week out.

These day programs have become “an integral part of their life,” says John, and now more families will be able to experience the benefits these programs offer to the community.

On Friday, the Alzheimer Society of York Region (AS York) formally unveiled two new vans that will serve as a vital link between clients in York and South Simcoe and the Society’s celebrated programming.

Acquired through a capital grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, with assistance from McAlpine Ford Lincoln, the Society welcomed Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MPP Michael Parsa to help cut the celebratory ribbon and formally dedicate the two new vehicles that will serve families throughout York Region and South Simcoe.

“Transportation to and from the day program is the life blood of the day program,” said Loren Freid, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of York Region. “There is no day program without transportation. Our two vans have been operating for nine years, making thousands of trips each year to safely deliver clients to and from our day programs, but the wear and tear of city driving has led to increasing and prohibitive service costs and eventually the necessity to put those poor vans out to pasture.

“With the generous support of the Government of Ontario and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, clients will continue to have customized transportation with specially-trained drivers and our drivers are here today, to take our clients to and from our day programs. More importantly, this generous support ensures the lifeblood of our day program is maintained and sustained.”

The Society’s operating philosophy is the empowerment of clients and caregivers through the “various phases of the disease trajectory and caregiver journey” through a range of “essential services,” he said. They are committed to providing person-centred care to meet the needs of clients, caregivers and families living with dementia through dementia-specific programming in combination with offering caregivers psychosocial supports, education, care planning and navigational supports.

“Since 1985, AS York has been a leader in supporting individuals and families coping with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias,” said Mr. Parsa. “Through magnificent achievements in providing care, advocating, promoting research and fundraising, AS York continues to be instrumental in the fight against dementia.

“[This grant] aims to increase accessibility and make better use of technological resources. I can’t think of a more deserving recipient than AS York, who is utilizing the grant to purchase two new replacement vans, increasing accessibility to their respected day programs for their clients.”

The Ontario Trillium Foundation has been a key contributor to the Province’s non-profit sector for more than 25 years, enabling organizations like AS York to “build healthier and more vibrant communities,” according to Elaine Adam, Chair of the Ontario Trillium Foundation – Simcoe York.

AS York’s application was one of the files Ms. Adam had a chance to review personally and she said she was “excited” to see their plans in action.

“You made a strong case for the difference the two vehicles would make in your clients’ lives and the lives of their caregivers, as well as outlining the efficiencies they would also provide when it comes to maintenance costs,” she said. “I understand that your previous vehicles made over 5,000 trips throughout York Region in last year alone.

“Here we are nearly six months after you received your $132,500 Capital Grant and the vans have arrived and people in the community will continue to receive the services they depend on. The work you’re doing in the community makes such a difference and we are pleased to have helped you continue your work.”

Words of gratitude were also offered by Zahid Salman, Chair of AS York Region’s Board of Directors, who highlighted the overarching benefits their day programs have on the mind, body and soul.

“Many of the clients who benefit from our services are unable to take York Region Transit due to mobility or behavioural issues associated with the illness,” he said. “Seeing the same familiar driver each day is vitally important to the client’s sense of wellbeing and security, and our highly respected day program provides people diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease and other dementias with opportunities to interact, socialize, exercise, and stimulate their brains.”

For more on the Alzheimer Society of York Region, visit

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