By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer

Yukon’s accessible van service – shut down two months ago due to the COVID-19 outbreak – will be back open fully next Monday, June 1.

The Compassionate Hands’ helping ministry will place its Care-A-Van back in full service starting next week to take senior citizens and people with disabilities to medical appointments and some personal trips.

Compassionate Hands, which has two wheelchair-accessible vans, has offered medical trips only in recent weeks.

“We will open up and expand to full-service June 1,” Compassionate Hands’ director Joanne Riley said. “Social distancing rules remain in effect. Only one rider at a time is allowed and both the rider and driver must wear masks.

Van rider Kim Quintana and her dog Lollipop complete a trip on Compassionate Hands’ accessible Care-A-Van. (Photo provided)

“Medical appointments have always been a priority. But we will also start back offering van rides for shopping trips and errands on June 1.”

The service is available, by appointment, to transport people on trips within a 30-mile radius.

The Care-A-Van takes elderly and non-ambulatory residents and people with physical disabilities to medical appointments, physical therapy and dialysis, the grocery store, library, senior center, and some personal errands.

“I am thrilled Compassionate Hands is resuming their van service,” Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby said. “This is very beneficial to so many of our senior citizens and handicapped citizens. I am very thankful for their tireless service to our community.”

Compassionate Hands’ volunteers use wipes and spray to sanitize the van after each trip as a safety measure.

Many riders appreciate the service and will offer donations to the van driver. However, drivers are not handling cash, so riders are asked to write checks instead.

Compassionate Hands will be seeking a new part-time driver to operate its accessible vans with the full service starting back up next week.

Compassionate Hands, which serves people in temporarily crisis by filling critical needs, has been in Yukon more than 25 years.

Its Care-A-Van is popular among the older, vulnerable population, so Compassionate Hands’ board members were forced to suspend the service in March because of concerns about the novel coronavirus.

For many years, Compassionate Hands operated one Care-A-Van but the demand had grown so much that the ministry in 2018 applied for and was awarded a federal Department of Transportation grant to fund a second van.

The new van arrived last spring.

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