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Retired Olds Sunshine Bus gets new life in Mexico

Rotarian says vehicle donated by Town of Olds went to a non-governmental organization in Culiacan, Mexico
 MVT Rotary drivers Olds Mexico Lethbridge cr
Five people representing the Rotary Club of Olds left the town on April 23, 2022 to deliver emergency vehicles to Mexico. They met up in Lethbridge with fellow Rotarians from across Alberta to leave as a group. The entire 16-member group, known as Los Amigos, posed in front of the vehicles before the trip formally began. File photo

OLDS — A decommissioned Town of Olds Sunshine Bus is seeing new life in Mexico helping take homeless seniors off the streets and physically challenged residents to medical appointments or recreational opportunities. 

Town councillors learned that when a delegation from the Rotary Club of Olds came to council chambers to outline how two vehicles donated this spring from the community to Mexican communities are being utilized. 

The Sunshine Bus (also known as a handi-van or handi-bus) went to a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Culiacan, a city in northwest Mexico that has a population of at least 800,000. 

Also, an ambulance donated by local residents Cor DeJong and former town councillor Debbie Bennett went to Tepic in southwest Mexico. 

Rotarian Mary Turner said the Sunshine Bus was welcomed with open arms by Martha Diaz Galindo. 

Galindo a former denizen of the streets, now runs an NGO striving to improve the lives of impoverished, street-dwelling and/or physically challenged Culiacan residents. 

“Martha was a homeless teenager living on the streets of Culiacan. And as she grew up, she decided that she’d like to give back to her community, so this lady created an NGO,” Turner told councillors. 

“This NGO’s sole purpose is to look after homeless seniors that she finds in the gutters and in the sewers of the city of Culiacan. 

“She’s taking our handi-bus and she’s going to use it to find these people, to bring them back to the accommodation that she’s created through her NGO, to keep them safe and healthy and well, to the end of their days. 

“She’s also going to partner with the city of Coolican to take others who are mobility-challenged to medical appointments and recreational opportunities in the city.” 

Turner said Galindo was “overjoyed” to receive the handi-van. 

As was the city’s mayor.  

Turner said he “couldn’t say enough for her NGO and the way that they gave back to their community. I have to tell you the tears were flowing when I handed the keys of our handi-bus to her hands. And when she started up that vehicle, there wasn’t a dry eye in the entire council chambers. 

“And I want you to know that that vehicle is going to be well loved and well served and well looked after for many, many, many years to come. 

“So thank you to each of you from the bottom of our hearts to each of you, to the city of Culiacan for the way it’s going to look after it, to everyone in Olds, to all yourselves. Much appreciated, thank you.” 

Fellow Olds Rotarian Randy Smith added another tidbit about the old Sunshine bus. 

"My understanding of that handi-van was that it really didn’t like the cool weather," said Smith. "It caused a lot of grief for you." 

“I can tell you that it loves warm weather,” he added, sparking laughter. “The ramp worked flawlessly. It just loved it. It was really good.”