With excitement that matched the celebrations in Jurassic Park following the Raptors’ victory in the first game of the NBA Finals, the Alzheimer Society of York Region officially marked the arrival of two new vans for its D.A.Y. program clients Friday.
“I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say, relatively speaking, that this announcement today … is about as exciting for us as last night’s Raptors’ game victory was for the city,” said the smiling CEO of the Alzheimer Society of York Region at the appreciation event for $132,500 in funding provided by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Ontario government.
“This capital grant was a gift that literally came in the nick of time for us,” CEO Loren Freid added. “It was time to put the vans out to pasture.”
The new vehicles replace nine-year-old vans that have made about 5,000 trips annually to and from the D.A.Y. programs in Aurora and Thornhill.
“This generous support ensures the lifeblood of our D.A.Y. program is maintained and sustained,” Freid said.
John and Melanie Wladyzak attested to the importance of the D.A.Y. program and the transportation service that has “been a godsend” to their family.
“It’s an integral part of our life now,” said John Wladyzak, whose mother Nancy has Alzheimer's. “It’s crucial in the care of our mother … and relieves us of all the pressures that come along with Alzheimer's.”
The “highly respected” D.A.Y. programs “enable persons diagnosed with Alzheimer's and other dementia to remain socially active and involved, decrease isolation and depression and delay admittance into long-term care,” said Zahid Salman, chair of the AS York board of directors.
Many of the clients are unable to take public transit due to mobility or behavourial issues associated with dementia and Alzheimer's.
“D.A.Y. programs also provide caregivers with much-needed respite to work, do chores or simply have some down time,” said Salman, adding he saw the impact Alzheimer’s disease has on families through his grandparents.
As the community continues to age, the demand for dementia-specific services such as the D.A.Y. program will also continue to grow, with AS York striving to keep pace, Fried said.
With the support of the Carswell Family Foundation five years ago, the agency was able to expand services to 12 more clients annually, and with additional funding from the Ontario government, it was able to permanently expand its Sunday D.A.Y. programming, Salman said.
AS York is the first organization in York Region to offer programming seven days a week, he added.
“You made a strong case for the difference that the two vehicles would make in your clients’ lives and in the lives of their caregivers, as well as outlining the efficiencies that you would also provide when it comes to maintenance costs,” said Elaine Adam, Chair, Ontario Trillium Foundation Simcoe-York grant review team.
Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill MPP Michael Parsa, who also attended the appreciation event, said, “I can’t think of a more deserving recipient than AS York to utilize this grant to purchase two new replacement vans, increasing accessibility to their respective DAY programs for their clients.”