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 Welcome to our Member Spotlight Page. This special feature showcases GPVSB’s most valuable assets– our members! Spotlighting members from across the GPVSB spectrum, Member Spotlight reflects the rich tapestry of our membership and profiles active Non-profit and business organizations. If you would like to be featured in this section please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Create your own member story: join GPVSB today! 

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Disabled Transportation

 


           

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Ken Murray

Disabled Transportation Manager 

 

Here and There

By Bryanna Webb, Project Coordinator

Edited by Rachael Rode, Communications Specialist

Many non-profit agencies in Grande Prairie go unseen and underappreciated. It’s the goal of GPVSB’s Member Spotlight to highlight some of these organizations and get the word out about how they contribute to our community. The Disabled Transportation Society (DTS) is one such agency. Bryanna Webb, Project Coordinator, sat down with Ken Murray, the manager of the DTS, to discover more about who they are and what they do.

As Manager, Ken Murray’s number one responsibility is to manage the bus fleet. He specializes in safety for clients as well as drivers. Other responsibilities of his include working with the City of Grande Prairie. Fundraising is another of his major duties as he coordinates the flow of donations, grant-application process, and DTS memberships.

The DTS has no exact start date. It was begun as a completely volunteered-based program, explained Ken Murray.  “We recycled when possible. Even the manager and drivers were included as volunteers and vans were rentals.”  Late 1970’s is when they became a registered charity and were able to accept donations. Currently, the DTS has grown to be a charitable organization composed of 25 persons. “There are currently nine busses with five more to come within the next couple months. In the beginning we only allowed disabled and then we decided to accept seniors,” Murray stated.  The DTS is concerned for the safety of the disabled and the elderly and the services they provide reflect that mentality.

They cover all of Grande Prairie and also extend their services to five kilometers outside city limits. This includes Clairmont, and for special occasions they will even travel as far as Sexsmith.

The DTS benefits the community and its individuals because the transportation offered helps the disabled and elderly to get around town with ease. Of primary importance are medical appointments, then work, then public schools, and lastly recreational, Murray explained.  The company has gone from serving just disabled individuals to mentally disabled people, seniors, and patients at the QEII hospital as well. “We are currently working to [incorporate] more recreational uses,” Murray mentioned.

When asked about challenges within the program, Murray said that growth came to mind instantly. Volunteers are in full-time demand as the DTS grows at 14% annually. They are currently looking into a fleet of busses that demand fulltime staff. As well, the DTS is pushing safety initiatives so they can be prepared to work with the fire department in cases of emergency. “We work as amateur psychologists, as some persons with mental disabilities cannot handle situations which include a change in routine, [such] as seating arrangements,” noted Murray. Furthermore, the Disabled Transportation Society is actively looking for sponsorship to assist those clients who cannot afford the membership.

Although working with the disabled and seniors may not seem like the most comfortable volunteer situation, it is often tasks outside of our comfort zones which yield the greatest rewards. People should realize that giving their volunteer time to the DTS is extremely valuable to the disabled and seniors, and also rewarding for the workers.  “Every day you can see the good [we do] in the community. Our number one [goal] is to make other people’s lives better by improving quality of life,” stated Murray.

The DTS is thankful to have kept many of the same volunteers since the organization has gone corporate, but they are also looking for younger volunteers to join their team. The spectrum of opportunities is wide, including volunteering at the DTS’s annual charity golf tournament, providing in-home assistance to the elderly, and assisting those using the transportation service, becoming a companion to the disabled and seniors.  While volunteering at the DTS, you can be sure that safety measures are always in place. Murray also highlighted an exciting opportunity for post-secondary students. “We are willing to assist college students and nursing graduates with practicums,” he said.

“It is a good feeling to be able to help those in our very own community. It is quite satisfying and appreciative work,” Murray commented proudly. Whether you’re young or old, the DTS needs volunteers like you to help the disabled and elderly get about town. To get involved, contact Ken via telephone at 780-296-4519.

The Disabled Transportation Society deserves recognition for not only the geographic expanse of their services, but also for servicing a wide spectrum of community members whom they value and appreciate.

 

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Odyssey House

 


           

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Lacey Bowers

Volunteer Coordinator, Odyssey House

 

Onto Second Stage

 

by Rachael Rode, Communications Specialist

 

                  Odyssey House is a non-profit women's shelter in Grande Prairie. It provides a short-term stay for women and children leaving domestic violence, supplying resources such as support groups and full-time child care. Because of the sector the organization is involved in, Odyssey House generally keeps a low profile, but the work it does is monumental in the community.

 

                  I sat down with Lacey Bowers, who started at Odyssey House in 2009 as a Childcare Worker and by 2013 had progressed to the position of Volunteer Coordinator. Although she wasn't present when Odyssey House joined GPVSB, she can definitely see the benefits that come through the Bureau. “If I ever need volunteers in an event I always recruit through you guys,” Bowers said, and added, “Advertising positions on the website is great.” There are many ways volunteers contribute, such as childcare, public education, support group facilitation, reception, and even filing taxes for the residents.

 

                  Additionally, Odyssey House will host special events or workshops which require additional volunteers, and GPVSB helps connect the agency to the volunteer community in Grande Prairie. GPVSB also features professional development programs, which Bowers has experienced. “The workshops are great as well. I've attended quite a few of them,” she stated. Overall, the volunteer effort put into Odyssey House has been exceptional. “Grande Prairie is very generous when it comes the programming at Odyssey House,” Bowers said. “I just thank the community for everything they've done for us. And thank you to the VSB as well, you guys are awesome at supporting us and we love working with you guys.”

 

                  Volunteers give to Odyssey House, but Odyssey House also gives back. Bowers explained that volunteers are provided with training sessions which equip them with skills and information. “[Volunteers] gain knowledge to help end domestic violence and to help neighbors, friends and family learn how to respond to domestic violence and where to refer victims of domestic violence,” she stated. Odyssey House's mission is to help women in crisis, and that mission extends into their volunteer network, spreading the reach of their positive influence farther into the community.

 

                  With the help of GPVSB, Odyssey House contributes locally, serving the locale of Grande Prairie, but they also have residents coming from Ontario, Nova Scotia, and even international destinations such as Japan. Bowers recounted many different success stories of former residents. It isn't uncommon for a woman to leave Odyssey House and begin again, living self-sufficiently, graduating from post-secondary education, and raising her family without the abuse from a previous partner.

 

                  Because of the growing need for such assistance, a second stage has been in production and is ready to open up in October. “It's the next level to our emergency shelter,” Bowers described. This second stage features 14 apartments of one to three bedrooms each, and while it still has the same security, but is designed for more long-term residents who require a place stay from six months to a year. Attending programming is mandatory, and gradually residents will be required to take on duties such as paying rent and working, readying them for life outside of the shelter.

 

                  Along with the increased capacity, Bowers asserted, “The volunteer program will double.” They will need more volunteers in childcare, plus new programs, such as individuals who may be willing to teach a babysitting course, to instruct Foodsafe and cooking classes, to host self-care activities, and more. “We're trying to get the word out as much as we can,” Bowers said, and added, “I never turn anybody away.”

 

                  If you would like to get involved with Odyssey House and be part of the amazing services they provide to women starting to live an empowered life, you can contact them at (780) 538-1332 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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Disclaimer of Liability: This page contains links to third-party service provider websites. Grande Prairie Volunteer Services Bureau is not responsible and assumes no liability for the content or materials available on any linked third-party sites.

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