Several months ago, over 350 residents participated in an online survey to help determine whether there was a true need among non-driving seniors in Great Falls for transportation to appointments and errands.
As a result, a new organization has been formed: The Shepherd's Center of Great Falls (SCGF). Their Mission is to provide transportation and (over time) other needed services to Great Falls seniors trying to age-in-place. They have legally organized and have been designated a 501(c)3 Charitable Organization by the IRS. They are affiliated with a national organization: Shepherd Centers of America (shepherdcenters.org) which focuses on services to help seniors age (gracefully) in place in their homes. There are roughly 50 Shepherd Centers operating across the country.
The survey clearly indicated that there is a great need for such a service in Great Falls. 74 non-driving seniors completed the survey, and roughly 50 indicated an interest in a ride service to get them to important appointments and errands. (Others had driving spouses, drove with care-givers, or were able to take taxis/Uber.) 60+ others expressed an interest in volunteering to drive a senior needing a ride, and another 70 expressed a potential interest but had questions about how it would work, including demands on their time and volunteer flexibility.
For riders (clients) this is how the service will work:
- you register as a potential client, which includes one-time screening by SCGF staff.
- you call in your need for a ride, for a particular date and time, with your home and destination information. Or, you can enter the ride request online on our website.
- your ride request is viewed by screened volunteers, one of whom volunteers to drive you
- there is no cost or charge to you the client for the ride, unless there is a parking fee at your destination.
- rides can be one-way, or round-trip.
For volunteer drivers this is how the service will work:
- you register as a potential volunteer driver, which includes screening and a background check.
- once accepted, you receive training from SCGF staff
- you view ride requests at your convenience, online, anytime
- you only accept a ride if it is convenient for you and fits your schedule and preferences
- there is no requirement to accept a certain number of rides, or even a single ride. You choose what works for you.
- SCGF carries supplemental insurance in addition to your normal insurance policy, and you can deduct miles driven on your tax returns as a charitable deduction.
Volunteers working hard to launch the Ride Service this fall, and we have a lot to do. To learn more about this organization and service, ,they can be reached by mail at PO Box 64, Great Falls, VA 22066. Or, email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to the Board of the Shepherd's Center of Great Falls for making this happen!!