JASPER, Fla. — A group of school transportation staff members here recently made a surprise visit to residents at their local nursing home.
More than 20 of Hamilton County School District’s transportation staff, including bus drivers, aides, and maintenance technicians, visited Suwannee Valley Nursing Center on June 5 to interact with their “resident fans” who had waved at them all school year as they headed out to complete their routes, Ward Daniels, the district’s transportation director, told School Bus Fleet.
Daniels said that every afternoon the nursing home residents would sit on the porch of the nursing center, located across the road from the district’s bus yard, and wave to the bus drivers.
“We would pull our buses out at about 2:30 p.m. and the residents would be out there waving at us, and we’d simply blow our horns back to acknowledge them,” Daniels added. “I thought it would be special to visit them at the end of the school year, so I reached out to the manager of the nursing center and they agreed that it was a good idea.”
On the day of the visit, Daniels said that his transportation staff came in a few minutes early. They even gifted two of the residents — Kenny Neff and Eileen Thompson (a former school bus driver) — with T-shirts similar to those the transportation department wears every Wednesday.
Both Neff and Thompson had never missed a day on the porch, according to Daniels.
“It’s one of those exciting moments that they look forward to, almost like a parade for them,” said Kim Williamson, the activity director for Suwannee Valley Nursing Center. “Having our residents see [the drivers] up close and meet them was so wonderful, and I think the bus drivers got a kick out of it too.”
Next year, Hamilton County School District's transportation department plans to continue visiting the nursing center, according to Daniels. He also said that during this upcoming holiday season, his goal is to gift all of the nursing home residents with the T-shirts so they can match the drivers as they wave to them.