Thanks to MyRide for providing crucial service

by David Morgan, Lawrence County Executive
A program that pairs volunteer drivers with seniors who can no longer drive recently marked five years of success in Lawrence County.
Several Commissioners and I got to celebrate the milestone with MyRide Lawrence volunteers, passengers, and administrators – Senior Center Director Stephanie Sinclair and program Director Kelli Brown Gibbs. I’m happy I could thank everyone in person, and I want to do it again here.
As of November 15, MyRide Lawrence had furnished 8,070 rides covering 71,087 miles, provided through volunteers logging 6,600 hours. The time frame includes many months of COVID, when the program did not operate.
Ms. Barbara Ott received special recognition, for good reason. She was first a passenger, and joint replacement surgeries have made her a service recipient off and on the last five years. When she’s cleared to drive, she really does…and has furnished more than 2,000 of those 8,070 rides herself!
MyRide passengers pay $25 a year plus $4 per round-trip ride (up to three stops per ride and $1 each for additional stops). Frequent destinations, all within Lawrence County, include the Senior Center, grocery stores, beauty shops, and doctors’ offices. Riders must be 60+ and able to walk on their own or with a cane/walker. Drivers can give them extra support and one-on-one attention that other transportation services cannot.
Volunteer drivers are validated through background checks and have specialized training provided by MyRide. They must have vehicles that are clean, well-maintained and insured. MyRide purchases additional insurance for active drivers, and if needed, can offer mileage reimbursement. Volunteers are asked to work a minimum of three hours a month and can view requests for rides online, accepting assignments that fit their schedules.
The South Central Tennessee Area Agency on Aging & Disability, which oversees senior centers in our 13-county district, chose to pilot MyRide in Lawrence County, modeling it on successful programs in other parts of Tennessee and the nation.
A grant provided funding for three years, and I am so proud County Commissioners have chosen to give the program additional funds the past two. For 2023-24, the investment is just $30,000.
Why is MyRide Lawrence so important? I wager all of us know at least one senior citizen who can no longer drive, and many of us will be in the same spot one day.
Statistics show most people outlive their ability to drive by 7-10 years. Seniors who no longer drive suffer from postponed health care, poor nutrition, and isolation. They make 15% fewer trips to doctors; 59% fewer trips to shop or eat out; and 65% fewer trips to visit friends and family.
So, with the gift of just a few hours a month, you can make a real difference in someone’s life. Volunteers are always needed, and very much appreciated.
To learn more about the service and how to volunteer, visit MyRide Lawrence on Facebook or call MyRide Director Kelli Gibbs at 931-244-7433.
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