By Marlana Ward
The need for reliable transportation is one of the greatest concerns for many senior citizens. Recently, the Johnson County Senior Center began looking for new ways to address this need by working to obtain a grant that would finance a new program primarily designed to assist seniors with transportation needs. The proposed initiative would provide residents with rides to the doctor appointments, the senior center, and other transportation needs. However, to see this new program come to Johnson County, the Senior Center is seeking help from the community.
On Tuesday, July 24, representatives from the Johnson County Senior Center met with officials from the Tennessee chapter of the Southwest Area Agency of Aging and Disability to determine eligibility and begin work towards the grant for establishing the My Ride Johnson County program. The 21 people in attendance listened to explanations of the program and gave testimonies of the need for such a program in the county.
One of the first items to accomplish for grant eligibility was the establishment of a steering committee for the Johnson County My Ride program.
Nancy Wills, Tom Neeves, Willie Hammons, Naomi Hammons, Evelyn Hill, and Dr. John Payne agreed to serve as members of the committee. The steering committee is responsible for helping ensure that the county meets grant requirements and identifying the best opportunities for the grant to be used in connection with the My Ride program.
Another requirement for the grant to be awarded depends on the willingness of dedicated citizens that step forward and give of their time to help the seniors in the county.
“The grant requires that we have at least ten volunteers registered to help with the program,” said Senior Center Director Kathy Motsinger.
The Senior Center welcomes volunteers regularly, and some of those who have served in some capacity at the center were present at the July 24 meeting to share their sentiments towards volunteering with the county’s seniors.
Ted Trivette, Johnson County resident and center volunteer shared how his mother and father benefited from the county’s Meals on Wheels program and how their experience with the center inspired him to volunteer his time to assist others. Trivette, who has been delivering meals to homebound seniors for more than two years explained, “I don’t believe in just taking and never giving back. That’s why I volunteer.”
Also eager to share her passion for volunteering, county resident Linda Moon expressed her feelings regarding her participation in the center’s current Meals on Wheels in an email to the center. “It is about more than just delivering a meal,” she said. “I know that some days, I am the only person that one of my clients sees.”
Moon went on to explain her anticipation for the new My Ride program. “It would be a wonderful program for our community,” she stated. “So many seniors have difficulty getting to doctor appointments and having this resource would be wonderful and take some anxiety out of their lives.”
Similar My Ride programs have been implemented in other areas and have seen positive reception and results as the grant guide states: “Senior volunteer transportation partners on this grant are well known and accomplished within their local communities for providing reliable, accessible, affordable, and safe transportation. Each partner program was developed with strong community input and forged strategic partnerships to build a successful model that would meet the needs of its particular senior population.”
The need for a dedicated transportation program is one that Motsinger experiences regularly. “There are days where I am on the phone constantly trying to get rides for scheduled for doctors appointments,” she shared. “We need a transportation program in our county, and this grant would provide funds for someone to help.”
The Johnson County Senior Center is going to depend on the county’s response and willingness to serve to see the My Ride program established. With the steering committee in place and working to fulfill the technical requirements for the grant, it is the need for caring volunteers that is most pressing. Anyone interested in volunteering at the Senior Center is encouraged to call 727-8883.