Older adults are among the fastest growing population in the country. Providing for the transportation needs of the growing number of seniors who can no longer drive is essential to overcoming a key barrier to health care and ensuring the continued well-being and dignity of the elderly. One community in Columbia, MD has made the availability of flexible transportation options a priority, enabling seniors to readily access medical care and to participate in social activities that reduce isolation, adding meaning and quality to their lives.
Neighbor Ride’s volunteers have been serving the transportation needs of Howard County’s older residents, age 60 and over, since 2004. Over the past decade, the original team of 20 volunteers has grown to more than 330, all committed to helping seniors stay active, independent and connected to their community. Since it began, Neighbor Ride has facilitated more than 92,000 trips for local seniors. And in the past year alone, volunteers pitched in a combined 20,069 hours of service and 132,740 miles of driving.
Neighbor Ride’s volunteer-driven transportation is provided with ongoing support from many partners in the community, spanning policy authorities, local businesses and civic organizations. The effort demonstrates how entities including the Howard County Office on Aging, the Volunteer Center Serving Howard County, the Howard County Office of Transportation, the Maryland Transit Administration, Howard County General Hospital, the Columbia Association, the Shelter Group, the Coalition of Geriatric Services, the Howard County Public School System, Winter Growth and others, can all work together. The Neighbor Ride program is sustained financially with ongoing funding from local and state grant programs, community foundations, individual and corporate donations, and other sources.
They drive so seniors can thrive. That makes Neighbor Ride a Daily Point of Light. Who are the people and organizations in your community that are performing exceptional volunteer work for the greater good? Nominate someone for a Daily Point of Light Award at http://www.pointsoflight.org/programs/recognition/dpol/nomination