Volunteer Transportation: A Tool for Aging in Place
According to AARP, more than 90% of seniors want to age in place. That is, they want to experience the changes of aging in their home and current community. Many seniors report feeling more comfortable in their existing homes, and they want the support to make this happen. Seniors planning to age in place should have a plan for money management, home management, healthcare, meals, personal care and transportation. Volunteer transportation programs can be part of a plan to address transportation for non driving seniors as they age.
What is volunteer transportation?
Volunteer transportation is the term for programs that provide rides using volunteer drivers. In Northern Virginia, NV Rides is the coordinating umbrella organization for 15 volunteer transportation organizations. NV Rides works with 15 partner driving affiliates throughout the region - operating in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties. NV Rides provides marketing support, cloud-based ride scheduling software, coordination, collaboration, and funds background checks for volunteer drivers. Each partner driving organization serves a specific demographic or region.
Independent and Interconnected
Each partner driving organization sets its own direction - some provide rides to only medical appointments, while others will assist with social engagements, religious services and errands. Each organization serves a unique area or demographic, and engages riders and volunteers according to their own policies. NV Rides unites the partner organizations with regular meetings and check-ins, marketing support and coordination across the region.
Who can drive?
All partner organization’s drivers are vetted by background checks and carry driver’s insurance. They have access to NV Rides’ cloud based ride scheduling system and select rides that meet their schedules. They make a huge difference in the lives of their senior neighbors. Volunteer driving is a flexible volunteer opportunity that feels good and conveniently fits into a busy lifestyle. Drivers pick when they volunteer and can volunteer as much or as little as they wish.
Who can ride?
While each partner organization sets their own requirements, there are some general guidelines for riders. Riders need to be independently mobile without a wheelchair. If a rider uses a walker or cane, they need to be able to independently manage and stow the item for a trip in a personal vehicle. The rider needs to be able to communicate with the driver and they need to remember where and when their appointment is. Additionally, rides typically need to be requested 5-7 days in advance.
How to help
NV Rides is always looking for volunteers to make a positive impact on senior neighbors - you can make a huge difference with a couple of hours per month. Social bonds, friendships and connection all come from the simple act of driving a neighbor. Driving for these programs ensures that they will be strong and available when a driver may need this program to age in place. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-537-3071 to learn more. Give the gift of a lift!
Emily Braley, Program Manager for NV Rides
NV Rides is a community based partnership of volunteer driving programs. NV Rides is honored to share that this partnership has been selected for First Place in the VA Governor’s Council on Aging Best Practices in Aging award for 2022. Emily Braley is an RN and manager of NV Rides since November 2021. She is a mom of 3 boys and loves being out in the Northern VA community meeting residents of all ages. She loves to share the joy and connection that volunteer driving brings to riders and drivers.
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