Posted at 11:18 a.m., Monday, June 16, 2003
Donation to help fix charity's vans
By Allison Schaefers
Advertiser Staff Writer
The donation of approximately $5,000 will allow the agency to fix its fleet, which has been out of commission since vandals broke windows, discharged fire extinguishers inside and out, and ransacked the vehicles on Friday or Saturday.
The vans are used to give more than 2,500 seniors rides to medical appointments, meal sites, shopping centers and recreational programs, said Stella Wong, executive director of Cath-olic Charities.
"We are a nonprofit barely making budget and to have something like this happen really sets us back," Wong said.
The situation is frustrating and Elderly Services is looking for other options, she said.
Wong said getting a "substantial donation" from a new benefactor has helped restore her faith.
"He's not listed in our donor base. He was just touched ... and decided to help us," Wong said.
Elderly Services hasn't experienced a disruption because of the damages, but drivers had to really juggle schedules to pick up the 125 clients who were scheduled for rides today, she said.
"I'd be lost without this service," said Genevieve Ptacek, an Elderly Services client. "I'm 91 years old and I can't take the bus because I can't get around enough."
Honolulu police are investigating the vandalism, which left the service agency with only one of five wheelchair-accessible vans in service. Eight of the 19 vans were damaged, seven of which cannot be repaired for at least several days.
It will take at least a week to repair the vans and it could cost as much as $5,000, Wong said.
Until the vans are repaired, some services may be limited, she said.
This isn't the first time the agency has been hampered by vandals. The vans, which were parked out of necessity under the Ke'eaumoku Bridge in a poorly lighted, obscure spot, have been vandalized 10 times since 1996, Wong said.
"We're exploring other options, but they are costly," Wong said.
The agency is still looking for donors to help them fund security and better parking for their van fleet, she said.