$652k trust supports Transportation Program, VON Connect in Annapolis Valley

A masked individual at their wheels, photographed through their rear-view mirror

VON is grateful to have recently received $652,000 in residual funds from the Millett New Minas Recreational Trust. The allocation will support VON’s Annapolis Valley Transportation Program, as well as the implementation of VON Connect, powered by AlayaCare, in the area.

For the past 10 years, VON has received approximately $65,000 annually, to create and maintain the Transportation Program, which ensures that seniors in Annapolis Valley (from Wolfville to Berwick) can get to crucial medical appointments and other outings that support their physical and mental health.

“The program is very well received and participants benefit greatly,” says Elizabeth Fitzner, Manager of Home and Community Care, Nova Scotia Community Support Services, Halifax and Annapolis Valley. “Free rides to necessary appointments and community outings are so beneficial and it would not be possible without the trust.”

The program is free to seniors in the 60+ range who are able to get around without the assistance of a wheelchair. It is unique from other forms of transportation support, in that the drivers accompany clients throughout their visit if needed.

“We help them into the appointment, sit with them. We are there for every aspect of the drive,” says Shannon Misner, Program Coordinator for Community Support Services in Annapolis Valley. This support can help to alleviate any anxiety clients may have about getting to and from appointments safely.

Shannon has numerous stories to share about the impact of the Transportation Program. She says the service is vital for individuals who may not have family support, have limited funds to support travel or whose family members find it difficult to free up the time to get their loved ones to appointments.

While the majority of trips are to medical appointments, the service also gets clients to other activities that boost physical and mental health, including grocery shopping. Shannon says one client in her eighties goes to weekly Bible studies. “Her daughter works full-time, and they are very appreciative that we are able to support her in doing something that’s so important to her.”

Another client visits her beloved husband in his care facility, where he receives treatment for dementia. Dutch immigrants who survived the Holocaust in their early years, the couple—both now in their nineties—lived their dream of having a farm in Nova Scotia. “She’s beside herself without him,” Shannon says. “She visits four times a week, and we take her for three of those visits.”

Their daughter told Shannon, “We are so grateful for the service VON provides; it has made such a huge difference in our everyday life. It has taken a lot of pressure off us. We know we can always count on VON.”

While the program has two paid drivers, it also relies on the support of six volunteer drivers, who often report that they get as much or more out of the experience as the clients.

“I enjoy hearing each individual’s story and it is always interesting,” says one volunteer. “After taking them a number of times, they truly feel like family.”

Another volunteer reported, “All went well today, she said she’s never been treated better in her whole life; poor thing started crying and hugging me. She said she really appreciates VON. That’s what makes this whole thing special, volunteering!”

Elizabeth says the team is grateful for the support of volunteers, and continues to actively recruit to ensure there is no waiting list for the program. “Our volunteers are so wonderful,” she says. “They go above and beyond.”

The residual from the Millett New Minas Recreational Trust will support the Transportation Program for five years, beginning in 2025. Currently, the program serves 62 clients with 180 to 200 rides per month.

Just over $200,000 of the residual will help to fund the implementation of VON Connect, our digital transformation project, in Annapolis Valley. Read more about VON Connect here

Trustee Mike Turner says Louis Millett, the creator of the trust, was a Dutch farmer who acquired wealth by selling significant portions of land in New Minas. Both he and his mother received care from VON and he felt it was important to support the organization.

He was “bigger than life,” Mike says, and “would do whatever he could for anyone.” Mr. Millett passed away in 2005, having created the trust largely to support recreation in the New Minas area.

For more information on the Transportation Program, contact Community Supports at: 902-678-3415 or by e-mail at: