Dunn donates retired vans to local school district, senior center

Two local nonprofits and the Enumclaw School District will soon be receiving some new wheels to help out with their operations.

The announcement was made by King County Council member Reagan Dunn, who represents the area in the county’s 9th District.

These retired Metro vans will be helping out local seniors at both the Enumclaw Senior Center and the Black Diamond Community Center, as well as ESD’s Transition Program for students with special needs.

“These agencies in the Enumclaw and Black Diamond area provide invaluable services to seniors and special education students in our rural communities,” Dunn said in a press release. “It is an honor to be able to direct these retired vans their way to support their important work.”

Over at the Enumclaw Senior Center, the vans — which are mandatorily required by the Federal Transit Administration to leave public service after eight year — will be used to supplement senior transportation, said Director Melissa Holt.

“The city has a 12-passenger van with a wheelchair lift that is the Senior Center’s primary vehicle for senior transportation,” she continued. “With transportation needs increasing this extra van will help accommodate those additional seniors especially those who are rural. Our Senior Center is very active, and we are seeing an increase of seniors engaging in our programs and services.”

The press release also mentioned the Enumclaw Senior Center van will help deliver hot meals around town — this was incorrect, said Rainier Foothills Wellness Foundation Director Sara Stratton, who runs the local senior hot meals delivery program, as RFWF and the Senior Center only overlap when meals are prepped in the center’s kitchen.

Down in Black Diamond, the van will be performing myriad tasks, including picking up seniors so they can have a hot lunch at the Community Center every Tuesday and Thursday, picking up and delivering their groceries to their homes Monday through Thursday, and helping the center with its food bank operations, picking up food every Monday and Wednesday, said Director Cheryl Hanson.

“The vans also help us distribute winter coats to agencies we partner with and helps us during the holiday giving program with pick up and delivery of holiday items and toys,” she continued.

The third and final van will be helping the Enumclaw School District transport students with special needs who are enrolled in the Enumclaw Transition Program. The program typically has 40 to 45 students participating each year, according to Enumclaw School District spokesperson Jessica McCartney.

Students use the program to help develop their “soft” work skills — being punctual, having a positive attitude, staying productive, and improve social skills — in various settings around town.

Students just starting out work in-district, helping out with the Enumclaw Grounds Department, the district office, the student store at the high school, or various other locations for an hour a week. As students improve, they then leave the district to transition to a local business in town for up to two hours a week.

Adding the van to the district’s fleet will ease scheduling restraints for taking students to worksites and back to school, according to Enumclaw High School Transition Program Coordinator Carolyn Kinniburgh.

The vans will come into play by August, the deadline for these organizations to pick them up from the county.

Other nonprofits or organizations looking for more information about or to request a van can contact Dunn’s office at 206-477-1009 or reagan.dunn@kingcounty.gov for more information on applying for a vehicle.