Did you know that VISTE’s first program was Transportation Services? In 1983 a small group of volunteers saw an unmet need in the community to provide transportation for local seniors. Over the years, the need has grown significantly, and today VISTE typically provides over 15,000 client trips each year, free of charge to VISTE clients. We often receive thank-you notes from grateful clients:
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for always being there when my mom needs a ride, especially since I work and cannot take her myself. You take her to her appointments, i.e., doctor’s office, eye doctor, and dentist. You have taken a weight off me knowing that she is safely transported to and from these essential visits. She always speaks highly of your volunteer drivers and feels secure and well taken care of. You are an enormous blessing to us.
As Transportation Manager Rodney Biegasiewicz says, “We treat our clients like family!” Unlike most transportation programs, VISTE provides “door-to-door” service, rather than curbside pick-up and drop-off. Rodney and his staff also try to pair clients with the same drivers whenever possible. This provides an opportunity for clients to socialize, helping reduce social isolation, a major risk for seniors, especially those who live alone.
Three-quarters of all Transportation trips are for medical appointments, and in fact, VISTE’s services can be lifesaving! Some clients depend on VISTE for transportation to chemotherapy or dialysis appointments, and VISTE is their ONLY option. VISTE drivers also transport clients to the grocery store, bank, and other essential destinations.
Rodney oversees the Transportation Services department, with the help of his Assistant, Donna White, and Barbara Ready, a longtime volunteer. The office phones ring almost constantly – around 75 calls per day! Rodney and his group coordinate all trips and drivers, as well as frequent rescheduling requests.
Frank O’Reilly, one of VISTE’s original volunteer drivers, is still volunteering today, delivering Hot Meals to VISTE clients. He calls his volunteer work with VISTE “very rewarding” and encourages others to volunteer. “VISTE has been a real blessing to the community and people,” he said. “We need neighbors and friends to look out for each other. It only takes me a few hours a week to volunteer and make a difference.”
Ten VISTE staff Drivers now transport clients. These Drivers have direct interaction with those they transport, so they also act as a “safety net” by communicating clients additional needs back to the office.
To qualify for Transportation services, applicants must be at least 70 years of age, live in VISTE’s service area, and be registered as a VISTE client. Additional criteria may apply. VISTE provides services for ambulatory clients but is not able to accommodate those using wheelchairs.
We are grateful to be able to offer transportation for VISTE clients – a service that is crucial to their ability to live safely and independently in their own homes. On behalf of our VISTE clients, THANK YOU to ALL our supporters, partners, and volunteers who help make this program possible!