Grant to fund ride services for seniors, disabled adults

By: Brian Louwers, | Warren Weekly | Published October 5, 2016

CENTER LINE  — An effort by Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers to provide senior citizens and disabled adults with one-on-one transportation to and from important medical appointments is getting a big lift from the Detroit-based Metro Health Foundation.

The foundation — dedicated to meeting community health care needs and ensuring access to medical care for the uninsured, underinsured and those without access to transportation — has awarded a grant of $22,700 to support the Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers “Driven to Good Health” project.

“We’re excited. Transportation has been a core of what we’ve done all along because it’s the most needed service in the area,” Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers Executive Director Karyn Curro said. “Our mission is to provide help to older and disabled adults, to help them remain safe and independent in the community. We really want to serve the people who have the greatest need first.”

Curro said Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers has been able to provide transportation by individual volunteers for senior citizens and disabled adults with appointments inside and outside of their home city. The service is needed, she said, because other programs offered through municipalities and regional entities are typically confined to a smaller radius.

“In reality, if I live in Warren, my specialist and three of my doctors might be in Troy or Madison Heights,” Curro said.

She said fully screened Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers volunteers use their own vehicles for transport. The volunteers arrive at the homes of clients, assist them leaving the house and getting in the vehicle, and transport them to and from their appointments.

The service does not require volunteers to provide hands-on care. Curro said all volunteers choose where and when they want to drive and are not required to work a set schedule.

Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers in-house staff members facilitate about 600 rides per month. Last year, Curro said, a total of 8,200 rides were provided, including about 1,000 arranged through the group’s partner congregations.

Curro said Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers serves residents of Macomb County and portions of eastern Oakland County. Approximately 75 percent of the group’s clients are older adults. The remaining 20-25 percent have permanent or temporary disabilities that affect their ability to transport themselves.

She said money from the grant will be used to offset the costs of recruiting, training and managing volunteers.

“We have all the clients we need, but what we really need is volunteer help and additional funding to help make this go,” Curro said.

Theresa Sondys, senior program officer at the Metro Health Foundation, said the transportation service provided by Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers is in line with the foundation’s mission.

“If people can’t get to the doctor, especially if they have chronic conditions, if you can’t get to the doctor for the doctor to monitor your health, you’re going to have a much poorer outcome,” Sondys said. “We all felt here it’s just a vitally important service, and we are very proud to be their funding partner in this program.”

For more information about Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers, including more about how to become a volunteer driver, call (586) 757-5551 or visit www.ivcinfo.org.