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New Volunteer Program Helps Provide Private Transportation for Elderly Residents

June 13th, 2017 - Brett Diaz

The inaugural group of volunteers for JET Express volunteer driver program. From left to right: Jared Firestone, Gabriela Lampl, Lissa Messing, Gail Kuhn, Ken Joseph, Bonnie Acompora and Joyce Schweitzer.

By: Sharon Aron Baron – Tamarac Talk

One organization is seeking volunteer drivers to provide door-to-door transportation to help keep active elderly residents in Tamarac independent.

Goodman Jewish Family Services of Broward County (JFS), one of Broward’s oldest social service agencies, has launched a membership-based, pilot volunteer driver program called JET Express. Starting this month, the initiative was implemented to help older adults meet their transportation needs.

For nine years, Dawn Staton, Director of Program and Volunteer Integration for Goodman JFS directed a similar program for Jewish Family Services of Kansas City. As a result, she has an intimate knowledge of the impact the program has on its riders, as well as its volunteer drivers. 

“JET Express is a volunteer driver program that will count on the residents of Tamarac for support. Without that support, this exciting and innovative program cannot become reality,” said Staton.

The goal of JET Express is to help older adults in both the Jewish and general community remain active and independent by accessing safe and reliable transportation with community volunteers. This pilot program will provide door-to-door transportation to a small number of area residents, including those who live in Tamarac, who are 80 years of age and older without readily available transportation.  In addition, it will also provide care management to those who become members of the program.  There is a 30-mile roundtrip limit, starting from the rider’s home and wheelchair-bound riders must be able to transfer themselves from their wheelchair into the volunteer’s car. 

“I’ve seen many long-lasting friendships created between JET Express volunteers and riders,” said Staton. “Volunteering for JET Express will be a wonderful way for community members to help older adults and, at the same time, will help them feel good by providing such a needed service.”

Research indicates transportation is among the most critical unmet needs for the older adult population, hampering their independence and increasing isolation and loneliness. Older Broward County residents can use the membership-based JET Express program for rides to doctor and dental appointments, the hairdresser, grocery shopping or other locations. Membership is $100 annually, which provides riders with 60 roundtrip rides per year. 

Volunteer drivers are being sought for this new community pilot program. Drivers need to be at least 21 years of age, hold a valid driver’s license, have current auto insurance coverage, participate in an hour-long training and agree to take a minimum of one ride per month. In addition, volunteer drivers will be reimbursed at $0.19/per mile.

In addition, if you or someone you know who’s 80 years and older, is interested about learning more about becoming a JET Express member, please contact Dawn Staton at 954-909-0829 or at dstaton@jfsbroward.org.

Article originally published on Tamarac Talk – http://tamaractalk.com/new-volunteer-program-helps-provide-private-transportation-for-elderly-residents-18731

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