Free rides: area seniors get on board

Seniors take advantage of the free transportation to and from senior centers in Morgan Hill and Gilroy provided by Sourcewise.

Seniors living in Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy, have reason to celebrate. As of July, free door-to-door transportation service to local senior centers is available to them, thanks to Sourcewise, an organization that provides support to seniors and individuals with disabilities, in Santa Clara County.
A recent press release from Sourcewise stated: “The Sourcewise Transit Service enhances transportation access for 11,574 South County residents who are aged 65 and older and in need of connections to senior centers in Morgan Hill and Gilroy.”
The transit service is a result of a 2016 comprehensive needs assessment of Santa Clara County conducted by Sourcewise.
As part of the assessment, a public hearing was held in Gilroy, which brought to light the lack of transportation mobility options available to seniors and individuals with disabilities.
“Folks found it very difficult to get around,” Aneliza Del Pinal, Area Planner/Public Relations Director for Sourcewise, said. “Not only was South County lacking private transportation, they were also lacking some public transportation as well.”
Sourcewise addressed the problem by initiating a pilot program in April of this year, the Speedy Shuttle, which ran Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.
The free service provided free door-to-door transportation to senior centers located in Gilroy and Morgan Hill, which according to Del Pinal, is the hub for older adults.
“Specifically speaking, socialization-wise, there’s a lot of programs and services that are available,” Del Pinal said.
The result of the pilot program proved extremely successful.
“April, May, June, we were at capacity,” Del Pinal said, adding, “We were providing about 552 one-way rides, that means we were taking trips in the morning, and in the afternoon, and people were beginning to be placed on a waiting list.”
Sourcewise is the area agency on aging in Santa Clara County and receives federal funding, in addition to private donations.
At the start of this month, Sourcewise utilized that funding to purchase a wheel chair equipped StarCraft bus, built by Americans with Disabilities Act industry specialists, adding additional availability for those in need of the free transportation service.
To date, the door-to-door service has provided over 900 one-way rides to seniors and individuals with disabilities.
“Sourcewise strives to find innovative solutions that benefit our clients and support freedom of individual choice and independence,” said Manuel Altamirano, Sourcewise Chief Operating Officer. “The Sourcewise Transit Service creates greater access for frail and isolated seniors who otherwise may not be able to leave their home.”
And the organization doesn’t want to stop there.
Shuttle expansion plans are already in the works, which would include door-to-door rides to doctor appointments, and to the route extension in the Santa Teresa Light Rail.
“Which would help the connection coming in to the more populated North Valley area, where individuals would potentially be able to access even more services,” Del Pinal said.
But for the now, the primary concern is providing services to those who need it.
Mickey Enos is one of those individuals. Due to 23 knee surgeries Enos,63, needed assistance when it came to traveling outside her Gilroy home.
Back in April, Enos found out about the pilot program from a representative of Sourcewise who works at the Gilroy Senior Center. She’s been using it twice a week, ever since.
“It has really, really, lifted my mind, in terms of just feeling like a human being, capable, Enos said. “Not feeling crippled, I am crippled, but not feeling so crippled I can’t manage my own affairs.”
Del Pinal explained that federal funding fluctuates, and Sourcewise will not find out until September if their budget allocation will be impacted, making community donations all the more crucial for the continuation of this new service, as well as the vast number of services the organization provides to seniors and individuals with disabilities.
These programs include: Meals on Wheels, Senior Information Awareness Program, Health Insurance and Advocacy Program, Senior Employment Services, Care Management, which includes a, Family Caregiver Program, a Public Authority Service, which provides a registry of individuals in the in-home supportive services, as well pre-screened in-home supportive care providers for those under the IHSS, (In Home Supportive Services).
“If it wasn’t for that service I would feel depressed all the time,” Enos said. “With that service it has made me feel alive again. I have a means of which to get away from the world I live in, and when you have that available to you, it changes your outlook on life a great deal.”
According to Del Pinal, Sourcewise is continually working to, “advocate and educate government officials and leaders about the importance of senior and their caregivers.”
“It’s not a senior issue, it’s a community issue, and as such it’s important to support all of our members in our community,” Del Pinal said.
For more information on the free shuttle service, call: 408-762-7362.
For information on Sourcewise services and programs, or to donate, call: 408-350-3200, option 1, or go to: http://www.mysourcewise.com.

Leave your comments