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For elderly and disabled, a single source for rides

Rides for Ridgefield, a new town transportation alliance, will begin services on May 1.

The program will provide Ridgefield seniors and those with mobility disabilities with a single source for ride information and transportation counseling.

Callers will be able to discuss transportation needs and available options. They will also be able to get assistance from the program’s centralized reservation service.

Coming down the road in phase two, which is expected to be operational within the year, Rides for Ridgefield will establish and maintain a volunteer ride service and manage rider programs and services.

“Transportation is very often a quality-of-life issue for seniors and the mobility disabled,” said Dr. Margaret Thompson, Rides for Ridgefield spokesperson.

Residents 65 and older represent approximately 14% of Ridgefield’s population. The federal Administration on Aging predicts this proportion will increase to 19% by 2030.

According to the Community Transportation Association, one of every five persons over 65 is a non-driver. It’s difficult to know precisely how many residents with disabilities have special transportation needs, but it is generally estimated that over 12% of the population are persons with disabilities, Dr. Thompson said.

“Although there are a number of volunteer-based, government-supported and privately run transportation services available to Ridgefield residents, there are transportation needs which are not currently covered,” Dr. Thompson said. “It is these gaps in service that Rides for Ridgefield plans to address.”

Volunteer involvement is critical to the success of Rides for Ridgefield. The organization is currently looking for volunteers to help with phone calls, community outreach, training, information technology, volunteer coordination, grant writing, fund-raising, record keeping, and driving.

Rides for Ridgefield is also filling positions on its board of directors. Specific areas of expertise needed are development/fund-raising, information technology, legal, marketing/community outreach, and financial/accounting.

“This will be a working board,” Dr. Thompson said. “We need people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and contribute their knowledge and talents towards making a range of transportation options available to our residents who most need them.”

Rides for Ridgefield is a nonprofit organization, created to ensure that Ridgefield seniors and those with mobility disabilities have access to transportation that is affordable, acceptable to the rider, and adaptable to rider needs, and that allows access to all the activities and services that are needed to maintain quality of life.

For more information on volunteer or board opportunities, or to learn more about Rides for Ridgefield, call Grace Weber at 203-431-7000 or email RidesforRidgefield@RidgefieldCT.org.

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