|By G. Michael Dobbs|
HOLYOKE Looking at the rain falling last Tuesday, Bishop Timothy McDonnell told the audience gathered under tents at the Mount Saint Vincent Nursing Home, "The rain just means I don't have to use as much holy water blessing the van."
McDonnell was at the nursing home to bless the facility's new wheelchair van, for which the residents and staff took three years to raise the funds.
McDonnell said the van means more mobility for the residents.
"Thank God for all of those who made it possible," he added.
Eriko Umana, the administrator of the nursing home explained that three years ago the home's former wheelchair van broke down, but the facility didn't have the funding to replace it.
"The residents lost hope," she said.
The actions of one resident, who sat in the lobby in her wheelchair soliciting change for a new van inspired the other residents and staff, Umana said.
In 2004 the staff hosted a motorcycle show, which started off a series of fund-raising events and memorial contributions.
By this year over $10,000 had been raised and the home purchased the four-year-old van for $11,000 from the Sisters of Providence.
After cutting the ribbon Enis Bewsee, the president of the residents association, received the first lift into the van.
Under-scoring just how important the van is to the nursing home, Umana said that private companies charge $200 for a one-way trip to a destination as close as the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside, which is less than a mile away.
Umana said that out of the home's 125 residents about 50 use wheelchairs.