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Expanding transportation alternatives for seniors and visually impaired

News

Expanding transportation alternatives for seniors and visually impaired

PORTLAND — ITNPortland, a local nonprofit, has received a $35,000 grant from the John T. Gorman Foundation to raise awareness of its transportation service by partnering with local houses of worship.

ITNPortland provides alternative transportation to seniors and the visually impaired 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for any purpose within 15 miles of Portland. These rides allow the recipient to enjoy the same independence and quality of life as if they had full time access to a car, while improving overall public safety.

The organization is different from a taxi service because the cost is subsidized by grants and donations. Riders pay below market rate. Drivers are volunteers and they earn credits which can be donated to economically disadvantaged riders.

Bob Dunfey, executive director of ITNPortland, stated that the organization chose outreach to communities of worship in particular because of their inherent support structures and high rates of volunteerism.

ITNPortland will distribute $500 seed money to each place of worship to jump start the service. Dunfey said the new initiative aims to let riders try out the service before committing to getting rid of their cars and also to allow volunteers to build up credits so that it ultimately will become self-sustaining. As an example of sustainability, Dunfey spoke of a particular member of Woodfords Church, who offers to pay for any congregant who needs the service.

Dunfey just began outreach to places of worship in greater Portland and hopes to have the service running in the near future. He said that 20 percent of seniors have a disability that impairs their ability to drive and it's important for relatives to get involved in providing safe alternatives for them.

For more information on how to receive the service or partner with the nonprofit, visit ITNPortland.org or call (207) 854-0505.

Marena Blanchard is The Forecaster news assistant. She can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 115 or mblanchard@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @soapboxnoise.