The Altrusa Club of Nanaimo has started a new service project spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bus and Park It project offers free bus tickets, city park brochures and personal protection equipment to people who might be living in poverty, isolation, depression and possibly without their own transportation. The project’s aim is to allow people to travel to Nanaimo’s parks, playgrounds and viewpoints to de-stress in natural settings.
With a $20,000 grant – funded by the federal government and administered by the Canadian Red Cross – the Altrusa Club has delivered Bus and Park It packs to local organizations that are now distributing them to their most vulnerable clients.
Each pack contains 10 bus tickets, a bus route map, parks and trails brochure, two reusable face masks, hand sanitizer and COVID-19 safety information. HandyDART bus tickets and child-size masks are also offered where needed.
“British Columbians have been encouraged to spend time outdoors during this pandemic because of the positive effect nature has on our mental health, but not everyone has a vehicle or the financial means to pay for bus fare, much less PPE,” said Jan Weir, project leader, in a press release.
Weir said the pandemic has hit the service club’s fundraisers hard so the federal government grant was particularly welcomed and Altrusa purchased all PPE from local businesses and more than $12,000 worth of bus tickets from the Regional District of Nanaimo.
The funding has targeted organizations that provide support in mental health, poverty, Indigenous needs, homelessness, disabilities, and supportive living for the project, which encourages use of public transportation and also included a literacy component with the brochures and maps.
“The response has been tremendous…” said Trudi Marqueratt, Altrusa Club president, in a press release. “What a great project to start off the new year.”