Neighbor Rides is a project of United Way of Northwest Vermont that brings people and places together to help meet the transportation needs of seniors and persons with disabilities. We are supported by a dynamic group of community partners who help use volunteer drivers to leverage government and community-funded transportation programs to help move our community.
Vermont's population is aging rapidly and national statistics show that 1 in 5 persons age 65 and older no longer drives. Many are forced to stay home on any given day simply because they lack transportation options – they make fewer trips to the doctor, to the grocery store and to family, social and religious activities.
Available resources can't compete with the surge in demand as our community ages. As a result, transportation providers often must restrict personal and social requests for rides and limit rides to only medical appointments, senior centers and adult day programs.
In 2014, University of Vermont medical students surveyed a group of seniors in Chittenden County and confirm our concern that limited access to transportation in our community leads to missed healthcare appointments and social isolation. Among surveyed seniors who have limited or no access to a personal vehicle, 69% delay medical appointments and more than 50% have difficulty visiting loved ones.
We have a solution. We're harnessing the power of people to help move our community.
Neighbor Rides volunteers use their personal vehicle to transport seniors and persons with disabilities to life-sustaining and life-enriching activities. We recruit and train volunteers, then refer them to one of our partners, Special Services Transportation Agency (SSTA), to coordinate trip requests and rides for passengers. SSTA matches and dispatches vetted, qualified volunteers to transport seniors and persons with disabilities who have no appropriate means of personal or public transportation available. When a trip request meets guidelines and can be efficiently matched with a volunteer driver, SSTA puts them together to make it happen.
Neighbor Rides community partners:
- Age Well
- Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission
- Chittenden County Transportation Authority and its community partners
- Department of Vermont Health Access
- ECOS Project
- Fanny Allen Corporation
- UVM Medical Center Community Benefit
- Special Services Transportation Agency
- University of Vermont Center on Aging
Be a part of the solution and become a Neighbor Rides volunteer. To learn how, connect with Leah Soderquist at (802) 861-7833.