Susie Van

WI Drive helping to get the elderly, disabled where they need to go

A Langley woman gives rides to people in need in her new van named “Cookie.”

The good deeds of one South Whidbey woman and her door-to-door assisted transportation service will continue, thanks to the generosity of the community.

Last year, Langley resident Heather Mayhugh came up with the idea of WI Drive, Whidbey Island Drive, a service providing rides for the elderly and people with disabilities to the grocery store, doctor’s appointments on the mainland and more.

Until recently, Mayhugh, a former construction worker and EMT, only gave rides in Clarence, her van named after the guardian angel in “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

A few weeks ago, a Whidbey resident who wishes to remain anonymous helped secure an addition to the fleet — a fully wheelchair-accessible van, complete with a ramp and ample room in the backseat for a wheelchair.

The new van is named Cookie, Mayhugh said. And yes, the van is a girl.

Clinton resident Susie Kanewske was the first passenger on Cookie’s maiden voyage on Christmas Eve.

“This is a much-needed service for sure,” Kanewske said. “For people with disabilities, this is going to be their answer.”

Mayhugh’s service is catered to each individual’s needs, Kanewske added.

Maureen Cooke, a volunteer who is helping to run the business end of WI Drive, agreed. The van provides a cozy setting where clients can relax while running errands or going to doctor’s appointments.

“It’s a much-needed service,” Cooke said.

She added that Mayhugh has a list of around 25 people who are currently wheelchair-bound and in need of WI Drive. Mayhugh has transported many people as far as the UW Medical Center in Seattle.

Ride fares are currently based on donations. Cooke is helping Mayhugh to attain 501(c)(3) nonprofit certification, which will allow the service to establish a fixed rate for rides.

“In the future, we want to offer monthly and yearly memberships for people that are on fixed incomes,” Mayhugh said.

Although they are still working out the details, this would also include an option for people to anonymously sponsor a rider.

The vans are meticulously cleaned after a passenger has been aboard. A sign of good sanitation, Mayhugh pointed with a laugh to Cookie’s leather seats, which are becoming weathered from the amount of times she has cleaned them with disinfectant wipes.

Because of the pandemic, ridership is currently lower than what it was when she first started WI Drive, Mahugh said.

“Obviously right now things are slow,” she said. “Most people in wheelchairs are people who are immunosuppressed in one way or another.”

She is hopeful, however, that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The new van is spacious, and post-COVID, will be able to fit more than one wheelchair if, for example, friends or residents of an assisted living community wish to ride together.

Cooke said she sees it as the perfect opportunity to take senior citizens on field trips to pot shops and wineries.

“It’s going to run for a long time,” Mayhugh said of the van. “It’s going to take good care of people on the island. That’s my goal.”

To contact WI Drive, call 360-320-3075 or visit the Facebook page, @whidbeyislanddrive

More in Life

Sherman, Phyllis
Rockin’ a Hard Place: A beautiful remembrance to heal a forgettable time

Each of us has that wonderful remembrance to treasure.

South Whidbey Homeless Coalition donation by Rotary
South Whidbey Rotary clubs donate to Homeless Coalition

Last Friday, the two Rotary Clubs on South Whidbey presented Executive Director… Continue reading

Annual Whidbey Gardening Workshop grows online this year

The island-wide gardening event is back this year after it was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Whidbey writer’s hospice book released in paperback

Oak Harbor author Karen J. Clayton’s book, “Demystifying Hospice: Inside the Stories… Continue reading

South Whidbey Homeless Coalition donation by Rotary
South Whidbey Rotary clubs donate to Homeless Coalition

Last Friday, the two Rotary Clubs on South Whidbey presented Executive Director… Continue reading

Lead actress Shannyn Sossamon talks with filmmakers Andrew Morehouse, left, and Nate Bell while filming “The Hour After Westerly” at the Fort Casey Inn. Photo by Wes Anthony/Firehouse Creative
Film featuring Whidbey free to view temporarily

“The Hour After Westerly” is free to view online until Jan. 17.

Reading to dog
Therapy dogs go online

Reading with Rover pairs pooches with young readers

Mead maker Jeremy Kyncl pours a tasting glass of Hawthorn Tulsi Mead, a blend of hawthorn berry and holy basil, in the new Whidbey tasting room of Hierophant Meadery. Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
From bluff to bluff: Meadery off to sweet start

Hierophant Meadery in Freeland features local honey in its sweet brews.

Susie Van
WI Drive helping to get the elderly, disabled where they need to go

A Langley woman gives rides to people in need in her new van named “Cookie.”

t
A Hero for All Time: Research reveals a decorated former Fort Casey soldier

Coupeville woman writes book about local WWI soldier who gained Col. George S. Patton’s admiration.

teaser
Bakery moves to new location

Chris’ Bakery is in a new location with a new owner.

I Love You
Wendy’s manager shares the love one drive-thru customer at a time

April DiDonna tells Oak Harbor Wendy’s customers she cares.