The Waupaca County Aging and Disability Resource Unit is partnering with Iola Living Assistance (ILA) and Living Oaks to make Iola-Scandinavia area residents more mobile.
“There is a great need for transportation for the elderly and disabled in the Iola-Scandinavia area” said Christie Gonwa, aging and disability resource unit manager.
“On behalf of Iola Living Assistance, CEO Greg Loeser has very generously offered use of his van for various shifts during the week,” she said. “It will be driven by volunteers, helping people get where they need to be within the community.”
“Rural areas are so underserved,” said Gonwa. “This will make a difference to so many people. It will help them get into town for errands, social events, grocery shopping and natural things everyone needs to do to keep their independence.”
“This will provide so many more opportunities for those who no longer drive or who would prefer not to,” said Gonwa. “We hope to see increased opportunities for socialization and even more participation at the nutrition program co-organized by Iola Living Oaks and Waupaca County.”
According to Gonwa, the aim is to get this program running by June of this year.
“The project will begin slowly, with a few hours a couple days a week in Iola,” she said. “Then expand to greater availability in addition to the Scandinavia area.”
Transportation areas will mirror that of which is currently used for the home delivered meals program and will cover five miles outside of Iola.
“Transportation services will be coordinated through the Iola Senior Center,” said Loeser.
“The criteria for eligibility will be similar to the senior meals program,” he said. “If and when the demand grows, the times, and service is available may be expanded.”
There will be a nominal charge of $3 for the service.
“This is a wonderful partnership,” said Gonwa. “Both Living Oaks and the county will be recruiting and supporting volunteers to maintain the program.”
“Pat Rosemann, senior center director at Living Oaks, will be the coordinator of the program,” she said. “We will need many volunteers to take shifts driving and to man the phone to schedule rides.”
Prospective volunteers can call Pat at 715-445-4440 or Nancy Ferg, Waupaca County transportation coordinator, at 715-258-6279. All volunteers will be given training.
“Improving the lives of elderly and disabled persons in our community will be the biggest asset of this program,” said Gonwa. “It’s a way to give back to them for all they have given and continue to give their community.”
Funding will be split between the organizations.