Replace Community Living's stolen wheelchair van
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$8,895 Raised
36% of $25k goal
66 contributors
0 days left
Ended Nov 5, 2014
The Waterloo Region Record is raising funds to help replace a custom wheelchair van that was stolen from Community Living Cambridge, and has waived the campaign fees. More ...

UPDATE 

After a custom wheelchair van was stolen right out of Community Living’s parking lot, Waterloo Region Record has been conducting a fundraising campaign to assist the non-profit group purchase a van.  Community Living provides services for about 300 adults who have developmental disabilities; without the use of the wheelchair van, the charity organization’s work has been compromised. This has left hundreds of individuals unable to complete essential day-to-day tasks such as attending medical appointments and picking up groceries.

 

Since the launch of this fundraising campaign, Community Living has raised an outstanding $8,580 of their fundraising goal.  The Waterloo Region Record is proud to announce that funds collected from insurance and successful fundraising has allowed Community Living to replace the actual vehicle.

 

However, financial support is still required to purchase conversion and updates to make the van wheelchair accessible. The Waterloo Region Record is conducting one final push for this campaign in hopes to assist this non-profit organization come closer to reaching their goal.

 

Community Living is deeply grateful for the support they have received from the community and will continue to accept donations until the fundraising campaign concludes on Friday, October 17th.  Generous donations that individuals are able to provide in this short amount of time would be greatly appreciated and significantly impact the fate of Community Living.  All Donations will be directed to Community Living Cambridge.

 

It was just before midnight on Friday when the wheelchair van went tearing out of the parking lot, right next door to the police station.

But it was Monday morning before staff at Community Living Cambridge realized what had happened. Someone had stolen their retrofitted 2006 Ford Econoline lift van, used to shuttle people with special needs around town.

Today, the agency that runs 24 group homes around Cambridge is scrambling to find a way to replace the highly customized vehicle, which it says could cost as much as $60,000.

In the meantime, it means people in wheelchairs who rely on the van to help them get to groceries, medical appointments and just about everything else will be compromised.

"Why anyone would take this vehicle I don't understand. That van takes people everywhere. Their lives revolve around this," said Winston Reid, the agency's operations manager. "And we don't know yet if we can afford to replace it. We don't have the money in our budget to be doing that."

The unmarked van, a two-tone grey vehicle with running boards, a raised roof and a large, steel chair lift visible through the back windows, is now reported as stolen to police across Canada.

The vehicle, with licence plate BJHE 678, isn't just any van, Reid said. It's been customized to carry three people in wheelchairs, with the specialized lifts, extra headspace and floor locks they need. There is no conventional seating in the back.

It's one of five wheelchair lift vans the charity owns, and gets used every day.

A staff worker at the charity's residence at 160 Hespeler Road — just meters away from the police station — noticed the van peeling out of the parking lot Friday night, followed quickly by another car. She thought it strange, and reported it to a supervisor, but they assumed another staff member had booked the van for the weekend.

On Monday, Reid came to work, discovered it had been stolen, and called police.

"It was booked to go out on to a doctor's appointment on Monday, but when our staff got here in the morning, it wasn't in the parking lot," said Reid. "Someone must have broke into it and drove off."

The non-profit organization, which provides services for about 300 adults with developmental disabilities, isn't holding out much hope the van will be returned.

It will be weeks before any insurance is paid out, and that won't cover the roughly $25,000 it takes to retrofit a van to carry wheelchairs, a process that can take several months, Reid said.

"Police told us that after two or three days, the chances of getting it back now aren't great," Reid said. "We won't get near the value of the vehicle back compared to what we paid and what it means to us. It's not a van you can just get anywhere."

Anyone with information in the theft is asked to call Waterloo Regional Police at 519 650-8500, ext. 2299, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

gmercer@therecord.com ; Twitter: @MercerRecord

 

About Community Living Cambridge:

Community Living Cambridge is dedicated to serving those in the Cambridge community with a developmental disability and providing events and activities to enrich their lives.

Support is offered through a variety of programs designed to meet each individual's needs. Residential group homes, employment support programs and alternative day programs all access the resources of the Cambridge community to enable those we support to achieve their goals.

Your contributions and support are greatly appreciated. All Donations will be directed to Community Living Cambridge.

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