George Garrett of the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society said the financial situation of the non-profit has improved, but with more demand has come an increased need for funding (Langley Advance Times File)

A brighter financial picture for non-profit Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society

Donations from Langley City and Langley-based First West improve matters

One grant at a time, the financial picture for the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society (VCDS) is improving.

Both the City of Langley and a Langley-based financial institution made new contributions last month to the Metro Vancouver nonprofit that provides free rides for cancer patients to and from hospital.

After a few years of not making the list of City-supported community causes, the VCDS was awarded a $1,000 grant by council.

“We are so delighted and so thankful,” volunteer cancer drivers spokesperson George Garrett responded.

Around the same time, Langley-based First West Financial, which includes the Island Savings, Envision, Valley and Enderby credit unions, donated $20,000, the largest “single-year” donation the charity has ever received, Garrett estimated.

Langley and Abbotsford areas are the most expensive, with costs as high as $49 per trip, VCDS figures show.

Other contributions, including grants from the Township of Langley, Surrey, Delta, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, Port Moody, and various other charitable and community groups, have helped improve the financial position of the non-profit, which Garrett said currently has enough funding to convert costs for the next six months, plus a contingency fund in case the money runs out.

That doesn’t mean the society is out of the financial woods, however.

Garrett noted VCDS still has to focus on finding funds because demand has risen as more people become aware of the service.

READ MORE: Gas price hikes another obstacle for Lower Mainland’s Volunteer Cancer Drivers

In December, VCDS drivers hit a milestone of one million kilometres driven.

Garett noted the drivers themselves the biggest donor group, because many donate their gas money back to the society.

Since the service was launched in February of 2016 to replace a previous service cancelled by the Canadian Cancer Society in 2015, VCDS has grown from a handful of volunteer drivers to about 175 volunteer drivers and 10 dispatchers.

VCDS operates in Langley, Abbotsford, Surrey, White Rock, Maple Ridge, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Port Moody, the North Shore, Delta, and part of New Westminster.

Everyone, from the drivers to the board members, are volunteers and the society does not keep an office. Dispatchers work to co-ordinate transportation from their homes.

According to VCDS, 93 per cent of all funds goes directly to drivers to pay for gas and minor maintenance, while administrative expenses, which help the society spread the word of its services, make up the remaining seven per cent.

More information is available online at www.volunteercancerdrivers.ca.

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