Te Awamutu Community Health Transport Trust has purchased a much-needed new van after help from local sponsorships and fundraising efforts.
But just days after the van was officially blessed and put into service, it is off the road.
There's nothing wrong with the new Mercedes — the service is one of many victims to the Alert Level 4 Covid-19 lockdown.
But when the country has beaten the coronavirus, Te Awamutu Community Health Transport Trust will be back supporting people in need in the community.
The new van was launched recently by Te Awamutu Community Health Transport Trust chairperson Robyn Atherton and blessed by Reverend Murray Olson and Reverend Julie Guest.
Te Awamutu Community Health Transport Trust is a volunteer-based organisation that assists people to get to health-related appointments in Hamilton and has been in service since 2011.
Robyn is thankful that they've got a replacement van after a long process trying to get funding.
The Community Health Shuttle project started in March 2019 and was initiated by Rosetown Lions.
Lions raise their funds in many different ways to service the community, and in the Te Awamutu area there are strong and diverse clubs.
The project was too big for one club alone, so Rosetown invited Lions Clubs of Te Awamutu, Te Awamutu Pakeke, Ōhaupō-Ngāhinapouri and Kihikihi to join them.
"The Community Health Shuttle project has been well supported by all, and has been an excellent way, for you the public, to help Lions help others," said Rosetown Lions Club president Paula McWha.
Robyn says a working group was formed and she acknowledged Murray Wallis, Melva Williamson, Chris Johnstone, Dianne Burgess and Robert McWha for their diligence.
"After trying a number of vans and listening to various comments, the decision was made to purchase the Mercedes Sprinter from Hamilton's Ingham Prestige," she says.
"The dealership offered us an excellent discount and also provided the electronic side door free of charge."
Together Lions raised $30,000 which included $5000 for each club from the Lloyd Morgan Lions Charitable Trust and The Lions District Banking Trust.
Although the Lions organised the fundraising, the public supported them by purchasing raffles and hot food from their food caravans, even freshly picked sweetcorn.
Robyn says the trust was overwhelmed by the response and she thanked all members of the public who donated to the worthwhile cause.
She made special mention of the family of the late Olga Irwin for their $15,000 donation.
"I would also like to thank the Rosetown Choristers for their fundraising concert, which was attended by a large and appreciative audience, and Talos, which was in the process of organising a variety concert, sadly cancelled due to the lockdown."
Major funding was also received from Milestone Foundation Limited which supports local communities. Their intention is to distribute funding to support education, health and matters that promote and support the Asian culture in New Zealand.
Robyn told the crowd at the blessing and launch that the service has been in operation for nine years and continues to grow and evolve.
"We often have both our vehicles on the road as our client numbers increase.
"We are very lucky to have an enthusiastic group of volunteers and a very efficient administrator without whom this service could not function.