WASILLA — Wasilla Area Seniors Inc. and the Mat-Su Health Foundation have teamed up to help make seniors in the Wasilla area more mobile. MSHF partnered with WASI to help fund a new 10-passenger 2017 Ford E-350 to be able to transport Wasilla seniors to WASI for meals.
“Clearly one of the top impediments for better health for everybody is transportation.
If you don’t get around your health degrades pretty quickly so the foundation knows that transportation is a big problem by helping us. We have a need and the capacity and the desire to grow. By helping us they're helping the transportation network,” said Chuck Foster, WASI CEO.
The van comes as a much needed boost to a transportation network across the Valley that is in need of not more vehicles, but also more coordination between patients, providers, and transportation. Linking up these vehicles to those who need to move around and coordinating services is part of a larger discussion that took place on Thursday, May 17 at the new MSHF building.
Problems, solutions and difficulties in the existing system were discussed by members of the public who have been invited to help solve the problems during two meetings on the 17th, one at the Wasilla Library and one at the MSHF building.
Foster says that WASI would like to coordinate with other seniors throughout the Valley and use the van for purposes other than just bringing seniors to WASI for meals, but that is yet to be determined.
The new van features large sliding doors to help ease passengers in and out, and a fold-down seat for wheelchair access. The van is an upgrade from the previous 6-passenger 2004 van that WASI had been using.
“It’s a big deal for our transportation program seniors who otherwise would be homebound. They can come to community center meet with their friends for lunch,” said Foster.
The van was put into operation in April and has since been helping bring seniors throughout the area closer to their friends for food and friendship. Foster says the new van offers additional capacity and comfort.