Alice F. Yates was the featured speaker at the May 5 Lunch with the League held in the Whitlock Room of St. John's Episcopal Church. Yates has served as Director of Senior Programs/Transportation for the City of Crawfordsville since October, 2007.

This is first of two columns reporting on her presentation of "Senior Programming at Park & Rec" and will focus on the remarkable service provided by the Sunshine Vans operated by the Park and Recreation Department.

Yates was in the Travel Agency Business for close to forty years and started that career at the Elston Bank Travel Department in 1967. A native of Crawfordsville, she has a great passion for our community and notes she is now just managing a different type of transportation-the Sunshine Vans.

Sunshine Vans provide ground transportation for Montgomery County residents (age 60 and older), disabled, and Medicaid clients to medical appointments and Community Action referrals. This service is provided in a courteous and efficient manner and at all times performed with respect and compassion for all clients.

The Crawfordsville Sunshine Vans serve 700-725 senior and disabled clients/year on a donation basis helping individuals maintain the dignity of independence.

Of the fleet of ten vehicles, there are five-seven on the road daily and one or two are providing out of town medical trips to Carmel, Greensburg, Williamsport, Lebanon and other communities for customers to receive needed medical treatment.

Sunshine Vans have nine part time drivers and two part time dispatchers. The Sunshine Vans make 80-100 trips a day including 3-5 to out of town medical appointments. Each year Sunshine Vans make approximately 31,000 trips and travel nearly 122,000 miles!

Transportation hours are from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, except major holidays. Services are for medical appointments, medications, nutrition site, groceries, and nursing homes within Montgomery County. For special arrangements, clients should contact Alice F. Yates at 364-5175, Extension 19.

Sunshine Vans have wheelchair accessible vehicles, and mobility aids can be transported. The unit must be able to be loaded and secured properly. If wheelchair accessible van will be needed, it is important to notify Alice Yates when the appointment is made. Wheelchairs users must wear a lap belt, and the mobility device must be properly secured in the van in order to transport the client.

The average cost of a one way trip is $7.56. Sunshine Vans has an operating budget of $180,000 to $200,000 per year. In addition to donations, Sunshine Vans are supported by MUFFY (Montgomery United Funds for You), MCCF ( the Montgomery County Community Foundation), INDOT-Indiana Department of Transportation, Area IV Agency on Aging /Title III, Nursing Care Facilities, Ability Services, and Medicaid.

The new barn has been a great asset for the fleet of vehicles to be sheltered from elements at night. Home Depot and MCCF were exceedingly helpful in getting this accomplished.

The unpredictable fuel costs are a challenge. Two smaller vehicles are used when possible for out of town trips to save on fuel costs.

Crawfordsville is indeed fortunate to have Alice Yates with her grant writing training and experience to secure needed funds, her strong interpersonal communication skills, excellent customer service orientation, effective problem-solving abilities and outstanding organizational skills. Under her leadership, Sunshine Vans provide great benefit to hundreds of Montgomery County residents!

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan, multi-issue political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase public understanding of major policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy. All men and women are invited to join LWV where hands-on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement. For information about the League, visit the website, send a message to PO Box 101, Crawfordsville, IN 47933 or e-mail