Volunteer drivers needed for transportation of elderly and visually-impaired

Demand for the Independent Transportation Network of Greater Cincinnati's (ITNGC) membership-based transportation service for the elderly and visually-impaired is outstripping its volunteer base, stressing the Deaconess Associations Foundation program’s 25 volunteer drivers.

Ridership has increased 82 percent since January, and additional drivers are desperately needed, said ITNGC executive director Nancy Schuster. 

“We had a feeling when we began this initiative in 2010 that it would fill a niche in the transportation needs for seniors and the visually-impaired within the I-275 loop,” said Schuster. “Not everyone is mobile enough or has the ability to wait for bus or special van transportation. We’ve been extremely gratified at the demand for our services, as well as the quality of dedicated volunteers who help us out.”
 
Since May of 2010, ITNGC has provided 6,468 rides. According to ITNGC records, members scheduled 393 rides in January. In February, the count was 503, and through March, 714 rides were scheduled.
 
ITNGC has been so successful that it’s now working to expand its volunteer and rider base to cover northern Kentucky.
 
“What’s perhaps most interesting to me is that so many of our seniors are being transported to places where they, in turn, volunteer,” said Schuster. “Places they go to include local hospitals, elementary schools, and libraries. This illustrates the genuine need we all have as human beings to remain mobile and stay connected to the community through volunteerism.”
 
For more information about driving for ITNGC, contact Schuster at nancy.schuster@itngreaercincinnati.org or (513) 559-2856.
 
ITNGC is a senior citizen initiative supported by Deaconess Assns. Foundation (DAF). The non-profit service operates 24-hours a day, seven days per week serving senior citizens (age 60+) and visually-impaired adults. The subscription service is staffed entirely by volunteer drivers who use their own cars. Becoming a volunteer driver is an extremely rewarding experience and fits in with any schedule, said Schuster.
 
ITNGC volunteers take members anywhere within the I-275 beltway, ranging from dialysis to shopping, to meals with friends. 
 
DAF aims to help older adults experience more vibrant, active and fulfilling lives by providing and supporting programs and resources for senior citizens aging in place. It is an affiliate of Deaconess Associations, Inc. which owns and operates Deaconess Long Term Care facilities in Ohio, Kansas and Missouri, and the Heimlich Institute, dedicated to using the creative portion of our minds in medicine and in life. 
 
DAF senior programs include: FullLife (www.LiveFull.org), a DAF-supported website that offers healthcare products, services, articles, and ideas for seniors and their caretakers; Beyond Driving with Dignity, a driving self-assessment program designed to help older drivers and their families stay safe and work through the complicated issue of assessing age-related, diminishing driving skills; and Deaconess Medical Monitoring, which provides safety systems and products to help its more than 1,200 senior citizen customers maintain a safe and independent lifestyle even while dealing with complicated medical issues.