We have all seen the impact of rising fuel prices, from increased carpooling to cutting back on the once popular Sunday drive. But nothing has seen more of an impact then senior driving programs, especially our own B'ville Express.
B'ville Express is an award-winning volunteer transportation project funded by New York State and the Office of Aging. It is seniors driving seniors to essential destinations such as doctor appointments, pharmacies, banks, grocery shopping and Canton Woods Senior Center, where the program is based.
On Tuesday, Canton Woods Assistant Director Terri Stamp said that B'ville Express was in dire need of volunteer drivers and donations.
Terri said the skyrocketing gas crisis has forced many senior volunteer drivers, most who are on fixed incomes, to cut back or cut out completely their community involvement. In fact, the center has lost numerous volunteers within the past two weeks simply because they can no longer afford it. While the number of drivers is decreasing rapidly, the need for rides has increased. Many of the seniors in need have no family, church or other organization to transport them to important appointments such as chemotherapy and dialysis treatments.
"The thing that is worst of all is the fact that we are often the last resort. When seniors can't get a ride from B'ville Express, they go without their medicine, groceries and have to cancel essential appointments," said B'ville Express Coordinator Jude Laurange. "In recent days we have even had to pull on staff to drive to doctor's appointments and even to chemotherapy."
Terri added that alternatives such as Call-a-Bus are not viable solutions because of the rural nature of Baldwinsville. To deter driving costs, the center tries to provide gas cards for drivers but at this time there are no funds available. Sometimes the person being driven donates gas money to the driver, but it's not often enough, mostly because they are struggling financially to begin with.
While the center is trying desperately to access other forms of funding to help drivers, it is asking for the support of the community, either by volunteering to drive once a month or making a monetary donation. If you can help in any way, call Judy at 638-0097 (Canton Woods) or send a donation to:
Canton Woods Senior Center
76 Canton Street
Baldwinsville, NY 13027