Dec 06, 2012 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
For more than 30 years, Fayetteville-Manlius seniors have relied on F-M FISH volunteer drivers for rides to medical appointments. And now, a group of volunteers is rolling out a similar program in DeWitt.
Community of Dewitt Friends in Service Here, or codFISH, began offering rides to DeWitt residents on Tuesday.
“Our only purpose is to provide free transportation to medical appointments for adults who live in the town of Dewitt,” said Jean Kimber, who co-chairs the program with Ginny Frey. She added that to qualify for a ride, you must live in the town and have no other means of transportation.
The idea to start the program was formed one year ago, when Frey met several members of F-M FISH. She realized the service was needed in Dewitt, Kimber said, “as many adults, particularly the elderly, have problems getting to medical appointments.”
“Bob Duncanson and Ken Henry, from F-M FISH, met with members of several local churches to describe their program and encouraged us to start a similar program in DeWitt,” she said.
Kimber and Frey are both members of St. David’s Church in DeWitt.
“At our first meeting, we had representatives from Dewitt Community Church, Jamesville Community Church, Holy Cross Church, Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church as well as St. David’s,” Kimber said. “Members of the Town of Dewitt Senior Advisory Committee, Jack Dooling, Jane Gershaw and Chuck Prutzman, also recognized the need and joined our group to turn this idea into a reality.”
The program, which runs entirely on donations, has a humble seven volunteer drivers that are on call to give rides from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“As codFISH grows, we will require more drivers and volunteers,” Kimber said. “We hope that the number of volunteers will grow along with our client list. The F-M FISH currently has 97 drivers — something to aspire to!”
FISH programs exist all over the world. Locally, in addition to F-M and now DeWitt, Camillus has a program called catFISH (Camillus Area Transport Friends in Service Here). That program was started six years ago and is up to about 40 volunteers.
How to catch a ride
People in need of a ride from codFISH can call 463-5158. They are asked to fill out a form releasing codFISH from liability in the event of injury or accident, but no other paperwork is required. Clients must be ambulatory and able to get to the volunteer’s vehicle from their home. They are also responsible for all parking fees.
How you can help out
codFISH drivers are all volunteers and they all use their own vehicles. They are not reimbursed for mileage. Drivers must first complete a volunteer application confirming automobile insurance and giving codFISH permission to conduct a driver’s license check. They are interviewed by a member of the program’s executive board, who provides them with a packet of information and instructions for their use.
Volunteers can serve on a regular or occasional basis. For more information or to obtain a volunteer application, call 463-5158 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you wish to help out in other ways, you have options.
“We are looking for dispatchers, who take calls from clients and match them with available drivers,” Kimber said. “Publicity, fundraising, computer skills and record keeping are some of the other skills volunteers can provide.
Ned Campbell can be reached at email@example.com.