Tips from TAPS: Honk at the TAPS bus, riders will wave back

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The Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors bus in the Creston Valley Blossom Festival parade.

The Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors bus in the Creston Valley Blossom Festival parade.

You have probably seen the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors busses around town, they are out every weekday, and on Wednesday there is always one at Overwaitea. These buses are a lifeline for more than 50 seniors who otherwise would be homebound. The busses belong to TAPS. They were purchased by the Krafty Kronys and the TAPS seniors through huge fundraising efforts. It takes a lot of craft sales, raffles and pies sales to buy a bus.

TAPS could not happen without the busses and their drivers because most of our seniors cannot manage public transit. This means that they could not be part of the activities at TAPS, and they would remain in their homes. It also means that their grocery shopping needs would fall on friends, family or neighbors and that another level of their independence would be lost.

We use the busses to get to the community complex for swimming and walking programs, and to go to the community greenhouse to work with young families on planting and harvesting projects. We go to singalongs and garden parties, and for drives through the country when the weather is nice. What a treat!

Yesterday, I rode the bus to take the TAPS people home. Our driver, Nellie, wound that big bus through narrow streets and lanes and down the highway. She made a very necessary stop at the pharmacy and then went on to the homes of 16 people on the bus. Nellie jumped out of her seat at each stop and helped her passengers off the bus. Many times, she closed the bus doors behind her and offered her arm to assist a rider up their walk. At one stop she walked Paul down a long driveway that is too narrow for the bus and too long for him to manage on his own.

The ride was full of laughs and stories. It was also a history lesson for me and a walk down memory lane for the others. “I lived down that street for thirty-five years.” “We used to walk up this hill to go to school and church.” “There was a mercantile on this corner and it was the busiest place in town.” “I remember standing right here and watching the high school burn down.”

I learned about where Alice Siding really was and that there was a graveyard there at one time. Do you know why it was moved to its present location? I learned that the GM dealership used to be an apple orchard, and that one of our seniors used to pick and pack those apples?

The story telling was a means of assisting those whose memories are a little foggy. “Mary, you remember when we used to plant our gardens in that ravine don’t you?” and “Remember when the bears ate the fruit from that orchard?” This caring for each other is one of the big benefits of seniors having the opportunity to be together.

At each stop there were calls of, “See you Wednesday” and “Take care of yourself,” and hugs from Nellie to her departing passenger.

We have two drivers, Nellie and Susan, who do so much more than get our seniors to TAPS. They manage those buses in good weather and bad, help with chores at TAPS and take care of each individual as they would their own parents. The seniors describe them as awesome, fabulous and amazing. We are fortunate to have them as TAPS team members.

The next time you see the TAPS buses, honk — we appreciate your support.

Terry Nowak is an outreach worker with the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors.