Hill House Dedicates New Bus
By Richard Kaufman
Thanks to the dedication of its residents and a generous donation from members of the community, Hill House now has the handicap accessible bus it needed.
The bus, which was officially dedicated on Wednesday, seats 12 people and can accommodate one wheelchair via a mechanical lift. It will be used to transport Hill House residents out to various appointments, shopping or to entertainment venues.
“This is a dedication and a celebration of the thoughtfulness and generosity of our community for making it possible for us to have a new bus that provides a lift for the first time, so that no one will be left out of a bus trip in Hill House. This is the result of the efforts of a lot of people,” said Sam Deibler, President of the Board of Directors for Hill House.
After the Hill House expansion was dedicated a few years ago, the Board began to look at the next steps to enhance the facility.
“One of the things we were talking about was our 16-year-old non-lift-equipped bus, and how we needed a new one,” Deibler said. “While we were talking about it, the residents were organizing.”
A few of the residents at Hill House came forward and wanted to help raise money for a new bus. The Transportation Authority of Greenwich, located just across the street, was looking to reduce its fleet so one of their newer busses became available.
Deibler told the residents how best to proceed and thought their efforts would help towards an inevitably larger fundraising effort down the road.
“Little did I know the energy, the creativity and the dedication of the residents made it possible for half the value of the bus to be raised,” Deibler noted, adding that the residents raised about $16,000 of the total $32,000 cost.
Efforts began last April with an in-house penny fundraiser aptly named “Pennies from Heaven.” The fundraising grew from there.
“Residents who had birthdays said to children and grandchildren, ‘Don’t buy me a gift I’ll never need. Send money for the bus,’” Deibler said. “There’s a resident who has a family who lives on the road to Greenwich Point; last summer, residents greeted cars on the way in inviting them to contribute to the new bus.”
The art program made 250 calendars featuring art work from Hill House residents. Mildred Cogliandro, a resident who contributed to the calendar, went to Greenwich High School on a regular basis to work with high students and got them to sell the calendars.
Deibler thanked Cogliandro for her relentlessness in selling the calendar and gave her the final copy as a gift.
Rita Lynch, a resident of Hill House who helped organize the fundraising effort, said seeing the bus up close and personal was “unbelievable.”
“We can’t believe it,” she added. “It only took us a number of months.”
Sam Telerico, the former President of the Board at Hill House, said the involvement of the residents speaks volumes about what the facility aims to do.
“It fulfills our purpose here,” he said. “Our purpose is to keep our elderly involved in the community and in their own skills.”
Once the residents had raised the money, two donors stepped forward to pay off the remaining balance.
A platform is currently being built to keep the bus on a level surface, so it remains in good condition. A tent will be constructed as well to keep it covered in inclement weather.
The old bus was sold at a reduced price to the YMCA of Greenwich, where they will use it for their daycare program. The money Hill House received was used to stripe the new bus and install luggage racks.
“[The old bus] shifted back a few generations, so it’s still driving in our community for the benefit of our community residents,” Deibler said.
After the official dedication, several people boarded the bus and took pictures alongside of it. The efforts of many were finally realized, and now it’s time to get it on the road.
“This bus is a great big thank you to our residents, to especially the [fundraising] committee, and to our donors for such a commitment to the transportation of our seniors,” said Deibler