The Manning Valley & area Community Transport group celebrated its 30th birthday with a special morning tea and lunch at Club Forster on Thursday, September 28. The event was attended by special guests MPS Dr David Gillespie, Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead and MidCoast Council Mayor David West, along with volunteer drivers, organisers and members of the community. Community Transport delivers transport services to remote and isolated areas over an area of more than 10000 square kilometers, helping isolated and elderly people interact with the wider community.
Community Transport Manager Jennifer Hadfield has played a big role in the organisation for over 10 years.
“We’ve grown incredibly over the years, the group started out in 1987 with a box for an office, a small grant of $40000, and some fundraising by the community so the first bus could be purchased in 1988.” she said.
The group has expanded beyond site, now owning over 27 vehicles, and growing from three part-time workers to 20 staff, and over 125 more volunteer drivers. The organisation works mostly with the aging population, but also caters for people with disabilities. Combined, the vehicles travel over 1.5 million kilometers , and provide between 65000 and 70000 trips every year.
MidCoast Council Mayor David West has been involved with the organisation since 1989, becoming involved through his wife’s extensive work with the elderly.
“I love life, and if I can help convince one person who doesn’t, or who feels isolated by their situation to love life too, them I’m happy,” he said.
The Manning Valley & area Community Transport Group is currently the sixth largest transport group in NSW, but Jennifer isn’t about to settle for that.
“We’ve just had an additional $85000 funding come in in the last few weeks to help us keep expanding, the Great Lakes is one of the fastest growing aging populations in NSW, so it’s important that we keep growing so that those people can continue to feel connected to the community”.