May 17, 2005 > Travel Escorts offers rides for the homebound
Travel Escorts offers rides for the homebound
by Nitasha Sharma
"Isolation is one of the worst factors of growing old," said Life ElderCare Executive Director Mary Anderson. In response to this problem, the Travel Escort in Fremont program began in September 2004, to link elders and disabled persons with volunteers who provide companionship and assistance when traveling by Paratransit. "This is a great opportunity to keep seniors linked with the community," she said.
To qualify for the program you must fill out an application for services with the city of Fremont that can be obtained online or by visiting City Hall. Upon completion and acceptance, you can then contact LIFE ElderCare to enlist the services of a "caring, sensitive, and patient" volunteer, said Anderson. The volunteer accompanies the senior to and from their destination for a small fee.
"This program is invaluable," said Eleanor, a beneficiary of the Travel Escort Program. "I wouldn't be able to get to the doctor without it." In fact, many seniors are in the same position. LIFE ElderCare Development Director, Liz Jardin, emphasized that many seniors are homebound and need this type of service. Jardin stressed the fact that with the advanced medical technologies of today, more people are living longer and therefore these types of services are more pressing.
Adam, a 37-year-old volunteer, donates his time to both the Meals on Wheels and Travel Escorts Program. Adam was involved in a motorcycle accident a little over a year ago, and is now limited in movement, although not in spirit. Shortly after one of his many surgeries, he volunteered with The Travel Escort Program, and took a wheelchair-bound senior to a doctor appointment. The most challenging factor Adam faced during that ride was that he was in a wheelchair himself. When asked what motivates him, Adam replied, "Compassion is inside all of us, we just have to give back a little." He feels that these seniors don't need anything special, they just need time.
The program relies on volunteers who commit a minimal amount of time of one or two hours a day, week, or even month. "Anything helps," said Anderson. Volunteers must be patient, compassionate, and able to help the seniors on a typical Paratransit ride, in addition to passing a background check.
LIFE ElderCare receives some monetary aid from the city of Fremont, but mainly relies on donations and contributions from various groups and individuals including automobiles.
To volunteer time, or to donate, call LIFE ElderCare at (510) 574-2090, or visit www.lifeeldercare.org. For more information on the Paratransit program visit www.accessalameda.org.
LIFE ElderCare, Inc.
3300 Capitol Ave, Fremont