Driven to provide transportation for more Marlborough seniors
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – The Marlborough Senior Center and its Council on Aging (COA) launched a pilot transportation program in October to accommodate more of the people who they serve.
COA Executive Director Jennifer Claro noted that the pilot program was designed to complement the volunteer-run Friends in Service Helping (FISH) and the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA), the parent company of Busy Bee and Dial A Ride. Busy Bee is used in Marlborough.
“FISH and MWRTA have restrictions on who they can pick up for transportation; they have to be 65 or over,” Claro said. “We serve people 60 and up at the center, so we’re trying to fill that gap.”
Also, FISH limits rides to residents of certain facilities including Marlborough Public Housing, Academy Knoll Apartments, Christopher Heights Assisted Living, and the age 55-plus communities of Villages at Marlborough East and Villages at Crane Meadow.
“Most people who come to the center live in their own homes, not in senior housing,” Claro noted. “It’s been frustrating that we couldn’t provide transportation for them.”
The pilot program is being funded through grants from Bay Path Elder Services and the state’s Executive Office of Elder Affairs. Contracted as the transportation providers are the MWRTA and the nonprofit agency Employment Options.
Volunteering as program administrator is Jeanne McGeough, a COA board member.
“Transportation for seniors had been discussed as a big issue for months,” McGeough said. “When Jennifer came up with this program, I knew that I wanted to help make it work.”
That discussion about senior transportation prompted Claro to include a survey on the topic in the center’s newsletter this past summer. A couple months later, Warren Day visited the center because he was newly semi-retired and seeking a volunteer opportunity. He immediately agreed to help organize this pilot program. More recently, Day was offered and accepted a new fulltime job. He still makes himself available to the center for consultation, for which Claro is grateful.
“Warren was very willing to do this because he personally had seen how some obstacles of transportation affected his own family members,” she said. “Whenever Jeanne wants to get another perspective, she can email him and get his input. It’s nice to be able to bounce ideas off each other.”
Marlborough residents age 60 and over can call McGeough to register for the program and schedule rides at 508-485-6492, ext. 33. Requests for rides must be made three business days in advance. Messages are accepted every day at any time. Calls are returned with a confirmation. A ride costs $1 each way. Over 40 people are currently participating.
Rides for doctor appointments are Mondays and Tuesdays in Marlborough; and Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in Marlborough and to the Southborough Medical Group. Tuesdays are for any errands in Marlborough. Trips to the center are Mondays and Tuesdays.
Special trips are scheduled Mondays and Tuesdays to various locations in Marlborough and surrounding towns. Among the many destinations are the Christmas Tree Shop, Solomon Pond Mall, Ocean State Job Lot, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Olive Garden, TJ Maxx, Walmart, Target, Hannaford, Market Basket and Wegmans. Participants are picked up at the location of their choice, which is usually their home, and then returned to the same place.
The program will be evaluated after it runs for six months. Claro is hopeful it will evolve into the future.
“Our hope is to maintain a senior transportation program,” she said. “We’ve had discussions with MWRTA and they’re willing to donate a vehicle to us, but we have to be able to show the need for it. That’s our goal.”
For the current schedule go to www.communityadvocate.com/2013/11/22/marlborough-senior-center-december-2013-transportation-schedule.
Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=43208