June 14th, 2024

LSCO offers volunteer transportation option for senior citizens

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman on January 10, 2023.

SUBMITTED PHOTO Blythe Groenenboom takes part in the LSCO Drive Happiness program, to assist seniors with their transportation needs for a small fee.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization is offering a senior assisted transportation program called Drive Happiness where volunteers provide rides to seniors to different activities or appointments for a small fee.

LSCO in home support and volunteer coordinator, Shiloh Sabas, said LSCO has partnered up with Drive Happiness since December 2020 to give seniors transportations options.

“Senior’s transportation, especially low-cost transportation in Lethbridge, has been a barrier for a while and whether it was for accessing medical appointments or their socialization in general even before COVID it was a barrier,” said Sabas.

She said Drive Happiness is a program that runs across Alberta, which started in 1998 in Edmonton, and when the LSCO was looking for affordable transportation options, they partnered up with Drive Happiness and brought the service to Lethbridge.

“Some seniors don’t qualify for Access a Ride, and they can’t afford a taxi, and when the city buses shut down and all transportation shut down during COVID we needed to have an option for them to be able to mobilize,” said Sabas.

She said seniors over 65 years old have to be registered as a rider prior to booking rides and it costs $10 for up to 90 minutes or 40 kilometres rides.

“In places like Edmonton and other communities, a lot of people exceed the 90 minutes, but in Lethbridge it is very rare unless it’s to drive somebody for a medical treatment,” said Sabas.

She said some seniors are taking rides to their dialysis appointments which can take up to three hours, so they would need two tickets for the roundtrip.

“Since December 2020 we have given 1150 rides. Right now we have 23 volunteer drivers, but we are always looking for drivers because it allows flexibility for volunteers,” said Sabas.

She said volunteers used their personal vehicles to provide rides and they only accept as many rides as fits their schedule.

“Whether you drive once a month or once a week it’s awesome and it helps a lot,” said Sabas.

She said that the service is a door-to-door service, but seniors need to be able to mobilize enough to get in and out of the vehicles without assistance in order to access the service.

For more information seniors can contact the LSCO or drivehappiness.ca

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