At Home in Darien’s new ‘supervan’ offers discrete transportation services for seniors: ‘It just gives them dignity’

Members of The Darien Foundation and At Home In Darien gather with a new handicap-accessible “supervan.” The vehicle was purchased through a grant from The Darien Foundation.

Members of The Darien Foundation and At Home In Darien gather with a new handicap-accessible “supervan.” The vehicle was purchased through a grant from The Darien Foundation.

Contributed / Calderwood Photography

DARIEN — At Home in Darien is getting a “supervan.”

The nonprofit is adding a second handicap-accessible vehicle to its arsenal through an $82,800 grant from the Darien Foundation, boosting its transportation services for elderly and disabled residents in town.

Gina Blum, the executive director of At Home in Darien, said the “supervan,” as the organization calls it, will offer residents a much safer and more efficient mode of transportation.

“This is the van that is going to fulfill all dreams for transporting people more comfortably, more easily,” Blum said. “We’re really excited about what it offers people who are dependent on mobility aids.”

At Home In Darien is a local organization that provides assistance to senior residents over 60 years of age and disabled residents over 18. The organization helps with grocery shopping and regular errands along with providing free transportation for appointments or other commitments.

The organization services about 450 unique passengers, Blum said. It provides around 4,000 rides annually, according to a release from the Darien Foundation.

The vehicle is a new Toyota Sienna hybrid van that has been converted to be wheelchair-accessible and walker-friendly, Blum said. It “kneels down” to reduce the distance between the street and has been fitted with a side-entry ramp that has a much more moderate incline than an existing handicap-accessible vehicle the organization currently uses.

Blum said the organization’s other handicap-accessible vehicle required residents to wheel in from the back, had a lower height constraint and kept residents sitting apart from their caregivers.

Blum said At Home in Darien extensively researched the van, which was fitted with the handicap technology features by BraunAbility, a company specializing in accessible vehicles.

This van is the second vehicle that The Darien Foundation has funded for the organization, the foundation’s release said. A previous $46,000 grant in 2015 provided a custom sedan for similar services.

The van’s accessible features and logo are all designed to be as discreet as possible, Blum said, allowing residents to take advantage of the service without any embarrassment.

“Seniors are very private, they don’t want everyone knowing what they are up to,” Blum said. “It just gives them dignity, which is what every person desires.”

Residents can reserve the van by calling At Home in Darien and making an appointment.

Editor’s note: The photo caption has been updated to clarify who took the picture.