BY JAMES FARRELL
SelfHelp Community Services, a nonprofit that runs several senior centers throughout New York City, launched a new, free transportation service for seniors at its Clearview Senior Center location. The program, which was funded by Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside), will be available for all seniors in northeast Queens’ 19th council district.
Under the new pilot program, Four Two’s car service will be on call to take seniors to medical appointments, shopping trips and visits to local cultural centers. Vallone partnered with SelfHelp to provide a $40,000 grant to launch the pilot program, which, the councilman said, is meant to provide a more reliable alternative to similar city services, such as Access-A-Ride.
“What we have done is partnered with SelfHelp to provide a grant of $40,000 to launch this new pilot program for our seniors, who have said loud and clear: ‘We need more transportation alternatives,’” he said. “Access-A-Ride is not a viable option these days and it takes too long—and it brings you everywhere, sometimes places you don’t even want to go. This is going to be door-to-door.”
Membership at the center is not required to make use of the services. For medical appointments, seniors should call the center between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. on the day before an appointment. Those who call will be asked their name, address, phone number, emergency contacts and time of pickup, and the center will arrange for a ride to and from the appointment.
A van service will be provided to take seniors on shopping trips or cultural excursions.
SelfHelp intends to expand the program in the next few years, according to Sandy Myers, director of government and external relations.
“As older adults across the city and across the country are facing a reduction in the social safety net that allows them to stay in their communities, programs like this are really critical to enabling them to get to both doctors’ appointments and more enjoyable events with their friends and neighbors,” Myers said. “We’re excited to get this program up and moving and hopefully to its continued expansion in the next couple of years.”
Seniors who attended the launch celebration said that they were excited about the new program.
“I feel wonderful,” said Bibi Vitberg. “We didn’t have transportation. We didn’t know what to do to get to the center and go back home. And in the afternoon we didn’t have anything to go anyplace.”
Seniors interested in making use of the program can call the Clearview Senior Center at (718) 224-7888.
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.