Wheelchair-bound residents will have a new way around the city, thanks to an anonymous donation to Del Mar Community Connections.
The local nonprofit celebrated the launch of the “Foxy Flyer,” a wheelchair-accessible van made possible by a bequest from an anonymous donor, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony March 19 at the Del Mar Community Building.
“For the first time, we have a vehicle that will allow us to offer transportation services to folks that are in wheelchairs,” said Tom McGreal, board president of DMCC. “We’re very excited about that. It’s an important step in expanding the transportation program that DMCC has right now.”
Founded in 1999, DMCC provides programs and services that allow local seniors to live independently and safely in their homes.
The nonprofit already has one van, but it is not a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.
As part of its transportation services, DMCC shuttles residents to local grocery stores every Wednesday. DMCC also offers scheduled rides to local destinations and special events.
Del Mar residents who are 62 or older and/or disabled can also purchase coupon books with vouchers for taxi rides at the DMCC office.
Additionally, the nonprofit has a volunteer driver program, where volunteers use their own vehicles to drive residents to doctor’s appointments. DMCC reimburses the volunteer drivers for mileage.
“Each of those adds up to about 400 rides per year,” McGreal said.
“We’re always looking for riders, and we’re always looking for volunteer drivers,” he added. “This is one of those essential services that DMCC provides to the community.”
The new van allows DMCC to serve more people, but also people they couldn’t accommodate before.
“One of the biggest challenges for us is to get word out to the community that we now have this van — that we can reach people who are in wheelchairs and may need a little extra help,” said board member Terry Kopanski.
The ADA-approved van can accommodate as many as six passengers, or one wheelchair-bound passenger and four additional passengers, or two wheelchair-bound passengers and three additional passengers. The van is also equipped with other safety features, including a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, emergency seatbelt cutters, roadside triangles and more.
“In a small town like Del Mar, to be able to provide services to seniors is really cool,” said Councilman Dwight Worden, who attended the event, along with Councilman Al Corti.
San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts cut the ribbon during the ceremony. During the third Friday of every month, he comes to the Del Mar Community Building to meet with community members.
“The County of San Diego can’t do it all itself, we have to partner with great community organizations,” Roberts said. “Since I’ve been in office ... Del Mar Community Connections has been a great partner.
“One of the most important ways for people to stay independent is to have transportation alternatives,” he added. “This is going to add another alternative for folks in Del Mar.”
The van is named in honor of the donor, an active member of the community who utilized DMCC’s transportation services. A private pilot, “Foxy Flyer” was her nickname.
Nancy Parker, cousin and trustee of the donor’s estate, christened the van with a bottle of Champagne. The bequest not only funded the purchase of the van, but will support the program.
“Thank you for making my cousin’s dream come true,” said Parker, who visited Del Mar from Tucson, Arizona. “This is very exciting.”
For more information about DMCC, visit www.dmcc.cc