Van With a Plan Launches in True Community Collaboration

Who says Friday the 13th is unlucky? The rain held off and the community came together last week to help launch Van With a Plan, a brand new mobile outreach vehicle.

Taking place at The Pit Crew Cafe, we were thrilled to partner with this fantastic establishment to offer a Biker Burger Lunch Special and a shady place to enjoy it while people came to see the Van and learn about the difference it will make in the community. The Pit Crew Cafe generously donated 20% of lunch special sales back to Van With a Plan, and also offered a free hot dog and drink with a canned good donation to the Blenheim food bank. By the end of the day, more than 150 non-perishable food items had been collected, something Tim Joyce, the food bank’s coordinator says is greatly needed and appreciated.

“The need in Blenheim since the start of the pandemic has just steadily increased. I couldn’t even begin to measure the tonnage of groceries going out… but if everybody just did a little bit like this, you can’t believe the difference it makes.”

-Tim Joyce

The van will be available for free use 24/7 to community partners, non-profits and service organizations to reach people wherever they are for whatever they need in the vast municipality. ROCK Missions has already made use of the van for outreach and is grateful that they will now be able to reach people in all areas of Chatham-Kent.

“This van makes a huge to difference to us in what we can do in the community. It allows us to reach out past just Chatham proper.”

– Renee Geniole, Operations Coordinator ROCK Missions

The idea for Van With a Plan was developed directly out of feedback provided by the Social Planning and Action Tables, which have met weekly since the beginning of the pandemic. With organizations forced to close their doors and people encouraged to stay home, needs in the community were not being met, even while that need grew greater day by day. With a vehicle like Van With a Plan available, organizations are able to go out into the community in a meaningful, safe and efficient way.

For UWOCK Board Vice President Chris Appleton, the van was a must-have for Chatham-Kent. “It’s a total outreach service, Chatham-Kent -wide that can be on the road all the time. It allows agencies to better service the entire community, and we’re thrilled with that.”

Thank you to our generous sponsors:

Blenheim Chevrolet Buick GMC Limited, Heuvelmans Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac Limited, and Chatham Nissan as well as Impact Graphics, Tek Savvy, Kelly-Anne and Dane Appleton of Royal LePage Peifer Realty and Maple City Homes. 

Thank you to all of our friends, neighbours, community members and local businesses who came out to support the launch; we couldn’t have done it without you.

And thank you to our local media for all the great coverage, helping to make our launch a success and to spread the word about Van With a Plan!