“The best thing that ever happened was the day I met Martin and Barb,” shares Veronica. She, like many other Sioux Empire seniors, lives independently. Although this gives her the ability to stay where she is most comfortable, it does come with its struggles. For Veronica, this includes transportation to appointments.
United Way funded program, Workers on Wheels through Active Generations, pairs volunteers with individuals in the community over 60 years of age who have an income under $20,000 per year and no family locally to help with services needed. These services can include light housekeeping, minor home repair, lawn work, and transportation to medical appointments and grocery shopping.
“Before Workers on Wheels I had to cancel appointments because I couldn’t find a ride,” says Veronica. “Martin and Barb are always very considerate. They take me exactly where I need to go and wait for me. They are very respectful of my needs and caring.”
In 2016, the program served 543 clients, completing 2,535 jobs and 1,210 rides. But it’s more than just the tasks completed. It’s giving seniors the opportunity to live independently, happily, and out of isolation. Having available and safe transportation is critical to connect with other people. Although life expectancy exceeds safe driving expectancy after age 70 by about six years for men and 10 years for women, few of us plan ahead to a time when driving is no longer possible. People living in places without adequete public transportation are much less likely to see friends, visit their doctors, go to the grocery store and take part in community activities (AARP).
“The Workers on Wheels program is meeting the needs of many frail elderly. We did not recognize the magnitude of the need until we started helping through this program,” share Martin and Barb, who help provide transportation to Victoria as well as other seniors in the community. “Helping others gives purpose and meaning to our lives. Workers on Wheels is necessary because all the people that we give rides to have health problems or financial problems that prevent them from driving a car. Without this program, the clients that we serve would experience great difficulty meeting their transportation needs.”
Veronica is thankful for volunteers like Martin and Barb.
“They make me feel good about myself. I thank God for them every day for coming into my life.”
For more information about United Way funded programs like Workers on Wheels, visit www.seuw.org.