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Aging Well receives $9,000 transportation grant

Volunteer drivers will serve Belfast, Liberty and Montville areas
By Fran Gonzalez | Jan 08, 2020

Belfast — Aging Well in Waldo County, a nonprofit group whose mission addresses the needs of elder community members, received a $9,000 grant from the Maine Charity Foundation Fund to launch a volunteer driver program.

According to AWWC Chairman Wendy Kasten, a countywide assessment revealed the three biggest challenges facing seniors in the county are transportation, social isolation and housing. On the flip side, assets include libraries, churches and the YMCA.

"Our goal is to have an all-volunteer transportation program," she said, to serve the Belfast and Liberty/Montville areas. "We are trying to focus our work on those areas," she said. The group hopes to be ready in April, but Kasten admits there is much work to be done.

With the grant, AWWC will hire a part-time administrator to help with the program, vet drivers and conduct training. Computers and phone lines will also be needed, Kasten said.

Seniors wanting to use the program will be able to access a portal from the organizaton's website, agingwellinwaldocounty.org, to hail a ride.

"Similar to Uber but in our case entirely run by volunteers," Kasten said. "It will depend on how many volunteers are available."

The first initiative, Kasten said, is to recruit volunteers for a committee to oversee the program. "Then we will solicit drivers," she said. "We are a little bit lean right now — trying to fill a little bit of the gap.

"It's exciting and a little scary," she said, "The money is only for a year and then we will have to figure out how to sustain it."

In all, Maine Charity Foundation Fund awarded 12 grants totaling $77,280 to nonprofit organizations around the state supporting transportation programs for seniors.

The program welcomes community support of any kind, Kasten said, either as a driver or as part of the committee to organize the details. For more information, email infoawwc@gmail.com.

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