Ed Thomas is 2020's Hope Heart Hero, an award that honours an individual or group who has made a significant contribution in the community through their volunteerism. (Youtube screenshot)

Ed Thomas honoured for volunteerism in Hope

Thomas has logged tens of thousands of miles as a volunteer driver and leader with Care Transit

Even in a year where nothing is business as usual, Hope’s volunteer community found a way to thank Ed Thomas for the tens of thousands of miles and many, many hours he has spent to get those who need it to their medical appointments.

Thomas, a longtime volunteer driver, board members and president of Care Transit, was honoured via video as the recipient of the 2020 Hope Heart Hero Award. Putting their fear of public speaking aside, Wanda Prest and Judy Arrowsmith spoke of Ed’s exceptional dedication to the community.

“Ed, when you’re watching this you have no idea the panic we felt when we were asked to do it. And we wouldn’t do it for anyone else, but we will do it for you,” said Arrowsmith, coordinator of the Better At Home program.

“To us, a community hero is an individual who will offer their courage, strength and self sacrifice and service for their community, benefiting people who they may never know by name but who will reap the rewards of their work. They must be compassionate and understanding. This person is Ed Thomas,” said Prest, Care Transit program coordinator.

Thomas has been volunteering with Care Transit since its inception 15 years ago, said director of clinical operations for the Fraser Canyon Hospital Catherine Wiebe, likely driving tens of thousands of miles to get people to their medical appointments as well as overseeing Care Transit, who also have a presence in Boston Bar, as well as Better At Home.

“Ed puts countless hours into the background operations,” Prest said. “Ed keeps all of these programs operating efficiently. He never complains about anything and he’s always available to help where needed.”

Care Transit is still operating during the pandemic, with eight drivers which is fewer than the normal roster of 15. Yet due to the pandemic, the volume of driving slowed down for a time. It is picking up again, Prest said, and the organization is looking for volunteer drivers and there is a particular need for female drivers. Most driving takes place on weekdays and drivers are reimbursed which goes to covering wear and tear, gas and insurance costs.

The Hope Heart Hero award honours an individual or group who has made a significant contribution in the community through volunteering. Normally the award would be presented at the Hope Fall Health Fair, which did not happen this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year’s winner was Bruce McDonald, pastor at Northwest Harvest Church.

“2020 is going to go down as the year with lots of things being done in an unusual fashion,” said Wiebe. She presented Ed Thomas with the award outside the hospital with both wearing masks and keeping their distance, as fellow volunteers congratulated Thomas via video.

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