August 26 – September 30, 2016 Vol. 18, No. 12

Neighbors Driving Neighbors

George needs a ride to the Alzheimer's day care center three times a week so his wife can have a little relief from the full time job of caring for him. Margaret is blind and has an appointment to get root canal done on one of her teeth. Betty would like to visit her sister whom she has not seen in six months. Esther has 10 therapy appointments in the next 30 days. Millie needs to go to the food pantry.

What do all these people have in common? They do not drive, they live in Mount Vernon, Fayette, Belgrade, Rome or Vienna and they are receiving rides from volunteer drivers through a program called Neighbors driving Neighbors.

Neighbors Driving Neighbors began in 2012 with concerned citizens from the towns of Vienna, Fayette, and Mount Vernon coming together to discuss the problem of transportation for rural seniors. Citizens from Rome and Belgrade had also identified this as a problem and in 2014 joined the ongoing effort to organize a volunteer driving program. We received a planning grant from Maine Community Foundation.

After a year of planning, form development, insurance investigation and bylaw development, we became our own non-profit 501(c)3 corporation. We were ready to go with helpful start up grants from The Bingham Program and The Betterment Fund in 2015.

Since November 2015, we have trained and vetted 25 volunteer drivers and given more than 122 rides. Our volunteers have traveled more than 5,543 miles and given more than 300 hours of service. We provide free rides to residents of the five towns listed above who do not drive. Riders can request a ride for any purpose within a radius of 30 miles.

We are excited that our program is growing as more people hear of the service. If you or someone you know would like to participate in this program as a driver or a rider please contact Irene Goff, our coordinator, at 860-0677 or neighborsdrivingneighbors@gmail.com. Our web site neighborsdrivingneighbors.org also has great information and pictures!