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Charity’s transport boost

Goodwill gesture: pictured from left are corporate actuary Jan Spindler, Hannover Life CEO Chantal Cardinez, Project Action co-founder Cindy Swan, volunteer Rose Douglas and chief underwriter Tracy Peterson. The money will go towards buying a second bus

Months after it announced that it might have to shut down, Project Action is planning to add a second bus to its fleet, thanks to the support of Hannover Life.

Chantal Cardinez, CEO of Hannover Life Reassurance (Bermuda), presented the charity with a cheque — the first of several earmarked for a second bus for the charity, which offers free transportation for seniors.

Cindy Swan, co-founder of the charity, expressed her gratitude saying: “This is going to be such a catalyst for us to provide transportation services that are needed in the community. We have so many seniors that are in rest homes and are not getting out. We have so many seniors who are missing medical appointments because they cannot get there, and some of those are life and death.

“If you need dialysis, you need it to live. It’s not an option, it’s a necessity. You are helping us fill a big void in the community, bringing us from possibly closing down to expanding.

“It’s day and night for us, so we really appreciate you reaching out for us.”

Ms Cardinez, meanwhile, thanked Mrs Swan for the opportunity to assist, noting the growing number of seniors on the island.

“We focus on life insurance. That’s our business,” Ms Cardinez said. “As industry people, we see our ageing population as being more and more important as people live longer, sometimes healthy and sometimes not so healthy.

“This cause is something that really spoke to us. These are the people we insure when they are young, we provide insurance when they are sick, we sometimes help with retirement savings, and we see that our products are shifting more to the senior citizens because there are just more of them these days.

“We thought it was a great opportunity to get involved, and we hope this is the beginning of a longer relationship.”

Project Action was founded in 2000 with the intention of providing free transportation for seniors in the island’s rest homes, helping seniors attend medical appointments and enjoy regular outings.

While Mrs Swan said the charity was initially blessed with several major donors, over the years the donations began to dwindle as repair costs for the buses began to grow.

In late June, Mrs Swan launched an appeal for assistance, announcing that it would be forced to shut down if it could not raise $10,000 before July 15.

“I was at the point that I was giving up, because I am the only surviving person from the start-up crew,” she said. “We had maybe $150 left, and we hadn’t been actively fundraising for a couple of years.

“When we got that low, I got scared. I put on Facebook that we were closing it and I got a call from [independent journalist] Ceola Wilson saying that we couldn’t close because she had two seniors who needed assistance.”

While she questioned the degree of interest, she agreed to do “one more push” with Ms Wilson’s assistance. The results more than doubled the goal, raising a total of $27,000 for the charity.

Mrs Swan also noted the charity received support from other groups, with the Corporation of St George’s giving the charity one year rent free.

While she said it would take around six months for the new bus to be in action, Mrs Swan said she hoped to see the charity continue to grow in the coming years to help meet the demands of not just the seniors and those with disabilities, but also the growing number of people who need dialysis.