Daily Point of Light # 2899 Mar 16, 2005

Founded in 1975, the Beaches Council on Aging formed the Dial-A-Ride program to provide transportation to senior citizens and/or handicapped persons for attendance of medical appointments and completion of such necessary tasks as grocery shopping, personal grooming and any other required transportation needs.

The Beaches Council on Aging serves to assist those residents of the Beaches communities who are incapable of providing their own transportation, in maintaining their independence and dignity, by providing reliable, personalized transportation services through the Dial A Ride Program.

The Dial A Ride program needed transportation to individuals, who otherwise would be homebound. The program participants either lack transportation or are limited in some way (i.e. medical limitations) form providing their own transportation. The Dial A Ride program bus operates out of the Beaches Senior Center in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

A volunteer Board of Directors oversees the program. Two dedicated senior volunteers perform day-to-day administration of the program: Bennie Furlong and Gail Ennis. Grant funding from the City of Jacksonville pays for a part-time dispatcher who works in tandem with the bus driver. The Bus is in service five days per week.

In 1999, beaches Dial a Ride provided approximately 3,000 round trips to approximately 200 unduplicated clients in Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach. As of year-end 2004, through the efforts of the all-volunteer professional staff, rider ship has increased to nearly 7,500 round trips and over 300 unduplicated clients.

Three years ago, funding was obtained from the City of Jacksonville in the form of a Public Service Grant, which has provided the stability needed to expand their services to five days per week.

One of their most recent innovations has been the addition of Pharmacy pick-up and delivery, where Dial A Ride will pick-up prescriptions and provide home delivery to heir clients. This of course does not involve any narcotic drugs, only other medications such as high blood pressure medications.