You are currently viewing ‘Godsend’ driver service secures $20k
Most of Paeroa’s volunteer drivers - including Gary Jarvis, who has been volunteering for 20 years, second from right. PHOTO: KELLEY TANTAU

‘Godsend’ driver service secures $20k

The Paeroa Community Support Trust – labelled a “godsend” by the people who use its Volunteer Drivers service – was one of 18 community transport providers across the rohe that gained a share of $209,500 from the latest round of the Waikato Regional Council Community Transport Grant fund.
The trust received $20,000 to support the operational costs of the drivers’ hospital transport shuttle, which takes people to and from medical appointments.
Val Sparks, who has been involved with Paeroa Volunteer Drivers since it was established, said the service’s 13 drivers always went “the extra mile” for their passengers.
They each use their own vehicle, and said she was “very happy” for the trust to receive the council funding as it now enabled them to take passengers to appointments outside of Waikato Hospital, including dental and chiropractic appointments, for example.
Now in its second year, the fund supports community organisations that help residents with transport needs which aren’t met by the public transport network, generally in rural and remote areas or where specialised support is needed.
The providers generally rely on volunteers, donations and community goodwill, which they use to provide significant benefits like access to healthcare, education and social opportunities when cost or distance prove too much.
Last year, the 14 organisations that received funding collectively travelled 857,900 kilometres making 23,662 one-way trips, including 1,087 trips for wheelchair users in accessible vehicles.
Meanwhile, volunteer drivers donated 52,019 hours of their time.
People who utilised the Paeroa Volunteer Drivers service called it “a godsend”.
“[In four years] we have found them very reliable, never late. [They] take us to the department we need to be at and always wait for us no matter how long it takes. A service like that in our town is a godsend. As we are an ageing community, having volunteer drivers to call on is one less worry for us,” one person said, as noted in the trust’s application to the regional council.
“I couldn’t do without them, it’s been great. I have no complaints at all, each and every one of them have been fantastic. I’m unable to drive and don’t own a car. To me they are a godsend and affordable,” another added.
“Paeroa is very lucky to have these wonderful people.”
Waikato Regional Council’s community transport lead Amantha Bowen said the funding supported some important and impressive work.
“If you look at the number of volunteer hours that go into these services, you can see that these organisations are working really hard on a shoestring budget. We love being able to support them to keep supporting their communities.”
The council’s 2024–2034 Long Term Plan includes a proposal to increase the fund to $300,000 per year, which will cost around 50 cents more per household.
Waikato regional councillor and chair of its Regional Transport Committee Mich’eal Downard said the committee unanimously recommended the increase based on the impressive work last year’s recipients produced and the way it complemented the region’s public transport network.
DETAILS: Anyone needing to find out about Waikato community transport services in their area can visit: