New van expands horizons for Thompson House residents

October 7, 2010

BRATTLEBORO—“Just because someone is old doesn’t mean their life is over,” said Carolyn Garland, a nurse who accompanied residents of Thompson House to York Beach in Maine in late August. “I wish there was a Make a Wish foundation for older people.  Some of them get stuck in their homes and just don’t get out as they age, especially when they live alone.”

Sandy Ware, activities director at Thompson House, couldn’t agree more. That’s one of the many reasons why she coordinated an outing to York for the residents at Thompson House.

“Every day in our lives, no matter our age, can’t possibly be magical, but I tell you, on this day, there was magic in the air,” said Ware. “For this one special day, we were taking a trip to the ocean. They weren’t residents of a nursing home; they were just going on a road trip, hanging out together. We were smiling and laughing and having a ball.”

Dane Rank, a licensed administrator for Thompson House was also along for ride. In fact, he drove the van that Thompson House recently purchased, to Maine for the day.

“Between the government, businesses, local sponsors, individual donors and the help of our Board of Trustees, we raised about $50,000 to purchase the van,” said Rank. “The community spirit that showed for our residents was certainly heartwarming. Little kids gave spare change so that their grandparent could get out into the world, so many people gave. I’m still amazed thinking about it. And to get to be the person who had the pleasure of driving these folks to the ocean, well, that just made it that much more special.”

According to Ware, this was the second voyage for the group in the new van. The first was to the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut, back in July.

“It was a day trip, we had lunch there, and we got back by supper time. One of the residents won $20 on the penny machines,” she said, with a smile.

Rank added, “One of the residents who made that trip has since passed. The reason I got into this business was to improve people’s lives. I’m so happy that the resident who is no longer with us got the opportunity to pull that slot machine one more time. If life is no longer fun, why would you want to stick around?” he asks, as he glances out the window, clearly moved by the memory.

The mechanics of the trip to Maine went like clockwork. Ware had the plan.

“We left at 8:30 a.m., and loaded up the van. Now we can take four people in wheelchairs and 10 additional people, including staff. We had lunch at the Weathervane in Concord, then drove on to York Beach and had the chance to visit the Nubble Light Lighthouse. From there we headed out for Brown’s Ice Cream, a real highlight of the trip. It was late August and it was 93 degrees at the beach,” said Ware. “We were all just little kids enjoying ice cream.”

<a href=",2005:cluster=″>New van expands horizons for Thompson House residents

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