It’s not, food, water or shelter, but transportation is the thing that can connect everyone to everything. The transportation program at United Community Action Partnership has been working for over 30 years to connect more people to more places, most recently through the launch of the Community Connection van program. It takes many services to meet people’s transportation needs and with help from a Live Well at Home grant from the Department of Human Services, UCAP was able to purchase a van with a ramp.
The new Community Connection van program is a first for UCAP. It offers service to seniors and people with disabilities on a sliding fee scale. It is also the first agency-owned, volunteer-operated vehicle in the fleet, and the first time UCAP has been able to offer wheelchair accessible transportation out of the area.
UCAP’s volunteer driver program has been around longer than any of our other services. Volunteer drivers are not bound by service area, like other transportation options. But since the volunteers have traditionally driven their own vehicles, wheelchair access was not an option. The Community Connection van, which is targetednat residents in Lincoln County, travels anywhere someone needs to go, and a side access ramp finally allows that freedom for everyone.
Because of the option for passengers to use the ramp and ride in a wheelchair, volunteer drivers receive additional training to aid those passengers into the vehicle and secure their chair. UCAP offers a stipend to the volunteers who drive the van.
Since launching in late May, the Community Connection van has given 13 rides, and more are on the books in the coming weeks. UCAP plans to launch the program in two more counties when the grant becomes available again.
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