Friday, July 19, 2013

HavenHouse St. Louis and the Toyota "Super Sienna"

Earlier this month, I decided to revisit HavenHouse St. Louis. You may remember them as the nonprofit organization that was chosen as a winner of Toyota's "100 Cars for Good" program last year, where Toyota awards charity groups across the country a brand new vehicle of their choice.

HavenHouse helps families who are traveling to St. Louis for medical procedures by providing them with temporary housing, meals, and transportation to and from local area hospitals. Because of this, they often need to be able to transport guests with special needs or disabilities. When they won the 100 Cars for Good contest, they were kind enough to choose Lou Fusz as their dealership to work with, and picked a Toyota Sienna that featured a fully automated mobility seat. We wanted to make their delivery day a special one, so to make things even more exciting for them, we loaded the minivan with household supplies they were in need of, and surprised them the morning of the 100 Cars for Good celebration!

Eight months had passed since HavenHouse took delivery of their Sienna, so I traveled out to Creve Coeur to pay them a visit. It was a warm, cloudy afternoon when I pulled into the parking lot. Somehow, it wasn't sweltering hot (like St. Louis normally endures in July!)

After being let in, I sat down with Director of Community Development Lindsey Gibson to catch up and see how HavenHouse had been utilizing the Toyota Sienna. Immediately after asking, she laughed and told me that HavenHouse had already put 10,000 miles on the van since when they first drove it out of our dealership in November of 2012. The Sienna has been transporting patients all around town, from places such Barnes Hospital, Shriners, and St. Louis Children's Hospital! Lindsey then told me that Shriners Hospital will often bring patients to HavenHouse who are from out of town and don't have a vehicle. To get back to the hospital and see their loved ones, they rely on the shuttle service from HavenHouse.

I asked how the Sienna has benefited HavenHouse, and Lindsey guided me outside to the back where they park their vehicles, so I could see it myself.

Lou Fusz Toyota, Sienna minivan, HavenHouse St Louis

HavenHouse has multiple vehicles to transport their guests around in, including another Sienna from 1998 that has nearly 200,000 miles on it. However, the staff who get to drive this new one affectionately refer to it as the "Super Sienna!"
Not surprisingly, it is the most popular vehicle by far for both passengers and drivers. Lindsey also told me that the mobility seat has been tremendous in accommodating their wheelchair bound guests.

How else has the Sienna been put to work? Lindsey mentioned that they often take it to pick up donations. Most recently, the van was filled up entirely with bottles of laundry detergent! They've also been helping to shuttle a group of kids to and from Camp Independence, a summer sports and recreation program for kids with cerebral palsy.

Before I left, I caught up with Executive Director Kathy Sindel. She told me everyone there hopes that they can eventually replace all of the older vehicles, so that their guests will always have an experience like that of the "Super Sienna!"
With 18 city MPG and 25 highway, the capability to seat up to 8 (in select models), and safety options such as blind spot monitoring, the Toyota Sienna is the perfect vehicle for the family of volunteers at HavenHouse. We're definitely looking forward to seeing it back at the dealership again for their next free ToyotaCare maintenance check up!

HavenHouse St. Louis is located at 12685 Olive Boulevard in Creve Coeur. If you'd like to learn more, you can visit them here.

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