aging2We bet everyone remembers how exciting it was when we first got our driver’s license!  It is an amazing “rite of passage” and one of the first steps to independence for a teen ager.  But we sure do not want to think about the other end of the lifespan, when perhaps driving is no longer possible due to age related conditions.  The independence that started with our driver’s license in our teen years becomes  jeopardized and for too many older adults, it means an isolated life - stranded at home.

The good news is that there are community organizations that care about this and have created volunteer driver programs to take seniors who do not drive where they want and need to go.

The better news is that these community groups will soon be able to give more rides to more seniors to more places.  Why?  Because a committed group of non-profit, volunteer, and philanthropic  organizations, convened by the Fairfax County Long Term Care Coordinating Council decided to take action.  With generous funding from both the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia and the Fairfax County Consolidated Community Funding Pool , NV Rides plans to launch this fall.  The project will provide a centralized hub for groups offering volunteer driving services.  Web-based software will make it easier to arrange rides and collect data on those rides.  The NV Rides project will also help groups who want to start a volunteer driver program.  Marketing and outreach support will help with recruiting volunteer drivers and groups can help each other as they continue to do provide a critical service:  making sure that older adults stay engaged in the community. 

While the story of NV Rides is just beginning, the formula for success is well established already:
  • Start with collaboration across a diverse Steering Committee (the list includes the JCCNV, JCA, Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, Giving Circle of HOPE, Volunteer Fairfax, Mt. Vernon at Home, Shepherd’s Center of McLean/Falls Church/Arlington,…); 
  • Add community groups who are focused on helping their neighbors;
  • Mix in funding from generous philanthropies and the public sector;
  • Sprinkle with easy to use technology;
  • Blend it all together and what do you get?
  • Increased efficiency, cross organizational collaboration, better service to seniors in need…
In other words:  A great project for a great community!