My name is Paul Volchoff. For 24 years, I have enjoyed being employed by HandyDART in Hamilton, Ontario, Nelson, British Columbia and currently in Surrey, British Columbia. Originally I held the position as a Vehicle Operator in Ontario. In Nelson I also held the position as a Vehicle Operator but started to get involved in Community Events and some administrative work. In Surrey I held positions of Lead Instructor, Safety Manager and Vehicle Operator, which I now do.
I have been given many wonderful opportunities in my field, but transporting persons with disabilities and the elderly is what gives me the most zeal for life. I have observed life in a different manner because of my passengers. The challenges they endure on a daily basis helps me count my blessings. If I have helped a passenger smile or laugh or just listen, I feel I am doing my job.
Recently, on November 12, 2019, I picked up a gentleman by the name of Don J. Colp. Don goes to The Guildford Seniors Come Share Society twice a week and has severe dementia.
Don’s Old Wheelchair
This was the first time I met Don in his manual wheelchair. As I was walking with Don to the bus, I noticed the wheelchair seemed too small for his size. I also noticed that the foot pedals had 2-inch clearance from the ground to the feet. Pushing the wheelchair was unsafe because Don’s feet could get injured if an obstruction was in the way.
When we arrived at the Colp residence, Don’s wife Barb, who is legally blind, greeted us in front of the garage door. I asked Barb how tall Don was and she said 6 foot. Well, this spoke volumes because it explained why Don was so slouched in the chair when we arrived at their residence. I immediately thought Don was not fitted properly for the chair and transporting him slouched is not proper posture to ride in a wheelchair on HandyDART.
Being concerned, I asked Barb where she bought the wheelchair. She told me, “From a guy in Burnaby who sells used wheelchairs.” Barb said she first spoke to the man on the phone and said she wanted a manual wheelchair for her husband and that he was tall. After the call, the man showed up to the house and presented a manual wheelchair to Barb and Don in their living room and he said it was made for a tall man. Being that Barb’s vision was impaired and Don had dementia, and having no real experience with wheelchairs, they had no alternative but to trust the man. The man also asked, “How much can you afford for the chair?” Not knowing, Barb said up to a thousand dollars. Guess how much the wheelchair sold for? You guessed right. One Thousand Dollars! Unfortunately, Barb did not have the man’s business card or receipt.
I had many mixed emotions when I heard this nightmare of a story. Don needed this wheelchair because he went to The Come Share Society on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This allowed Barb to have respite; being 82 years of age was a big commitment to be a caregiver/Power of Attorney for an 87 year old husband with severe dementia. Barb could see how concerned I was and asked if I could help in some way. I told her to call the nurse at Come Share and see if they knew of a service that could help Don. I told Barb I would see what I could do because of the safety issue; Don couldn’t have his time at Come Share interrupted.
The next day, I was talking to a friend of mine at HandyDART who is a Vehicle Operator. I told her the story about Don and was contemplating just buying a wheelchair for Don and fixing the issue completely. My friend said she had been given a business card from a society called Pos-Abilities maybe they could help. My friend picture texted me the business card and the web address was on it.
Don’s New Wheelchair
On Saturday November 16, 2019 I looked at the website and was astounded and overwhelmed. I had never heard of this Society in all my 18 years of driving with HandyDART. What the Society does for people was something I wanted to get involved with.
But first I had to get Don the wheelchair.
I submitted the request form for the wheelchair and perused the website for some more information on what types of things Pos-Abilities provided for people. I called the phone number on the card and started talking to Zosia Ettenberg. I told her I was amazed at what I saw and wanted to get involved.
Zosia said, “Well, what are you doing tonight? We are having a fund raiser and silent auction at the Artful Dodger tonight. I have a ticket that you could purchase and we could meet.” At the fund raiser I met Zosia and also talked a lot to President Robert Leroux. Within one week I was an official volunteer and Don Colp received his proper fitting manual wheelchair.
Chain Saw Sculptor
A week after Don received his wheelchair, Barb handed me a brochure of Don which showcased his wood carvings. Don was a Chain Saw Sculptor. Don was famous for designing a carving bar with another Canadian carver. Don became internationally famous for his carving works. You just never know what you can learn about a person’s past when you meet them in my work!
The best thing about this whole experience was seeing Don smile after he sat in the wheelchair!
Please consider making a donation today to Langley Pos-Abilities Society. We want to help more people like Don!