Lions Dorothy Maynard and Heather Huth participated in the Sunday’s Remembrance Day service.
Westport Lions Roar
By Lion Bob Reddick
Captain Jack Hearn started the MMS in 1985 with the principal operators Norm Reside and Sammy McGregor.
The first vehicle was acquired with donations received from local residents in the Westport area. A second vehicle was acquired in the mid 1990s through a combination of a grant from the Lions Club International Fund (LCIF) and local donations.
In 2005, the vehicle was replaced by a grant from LCIF and with the help of the Elgin Lions Club, who co-signed the grant to meet new requirements. At that time, the service area was expanded from the Westport and Newboro area to include Elgin because of the Elgin club’s involvement.
Before 2014, the service was operated by a committee of two club members with an additional three club members as backup drivers. The service was handling about 100 trips per year (4-6 in Elgin) using the telephone to make requests as well as assign drivers.
In 2015, the two members operating the service retired and the responsibility was passed through several members. At the time, it was difficult to find a member who could provide the time to service calls arriving at all hours, seven days a week and finding drivers was becoming difficult.
At the same time, the number of requests for service was growing, partly due to the closing of the Elgin’s medical clinic. Additional Lions Club drivers, and the recruiting of volunteer non-member drivers helped to alleviate this increased need.
Another solution to the increase in demand was to subsidize drivers to use their own vehicles when our one bus was in use and claim .30/km. This presented an increased expense of $5,000.00 (about 16,000 km) per year. This along with increasing repairs to the ten-year-old Ford bus and decreasing donations was reversing our positive cash flow, and encroaching on our reserves. A new vehicle was needed, possibly two.
Over the past two years, we have acquired two new vehicles to service the demand. In 2015, the MV1, a wheelchair accessible vehicle, was acquired and the old Ford was kept in service as backup and overflow. This vehicle eventually broke down in 2016 and the Dodge Caravan was purchased. This was all financed from reserve funds accumulated since 2005, largely due to The Cove breakfast fundraisers and donations from the Pilkington-Henniger Charitable Trust.
Since 2016, a number of operational changes have been made to improve the efficiency of the service as well as enabling records to be kept for management purposes.
a) A significant increase in the recruitment of volunteer drivers (9) who now provide most of the driving and only using club members (5) as backup drivers.
b) Installation of an answering service on the club’s main number 613-273-5789 to receive requests for service rather than dialling a club member directly.
c) Polling drivers and assigning assignments through e-mail.
Restricting service to weekdays only with seven days notice required.
d) Recording all riders, pick up addresses, destinations, driver and vehicle on a spreadsheet.
These changes, developed over the last year or so, now provide an efficient and well-managed service.