Volunteers for the Independent Living Partnership’s TRIP program have been providing an average of 80,000 trips per year of needed transportation for elderly, disabled and seriously ill people, according to Chief Operating Officer Ivet Woolridge.
Woolridge says, “The clients we served probably could not have received the rides they needed in any other way.” She continued that eligible clients are unable to drive themselves, do not have family to assist them, and are unable to use public transportation alternatives for various physical, mental health, or financial reasons.
Woolridge says, “Imagine you cannot drive, have no family to help, cannot walk to the bus stop and do not have the money to pay for an Uber or Lyft ride or pay for a transit van service and you need to get to your doctor, the grocery store or some other important place, what are you going to do?” Maybe you can beg a neighbor to provide the ride, which according to Woolridge, can be embarrassing and maybe not successful.
She continues the TRIP model has been the answer for people in Riverside County for almost ever now and should be a transportation option everywhere.
TRIP is a rider-centered volunteer program that includes rider responsibilities that enable them to get the transportation they require. They are able to recruit their own volunteer drivers from among friends and neighbors. If there is a problem getting a volunteer, TRIP staff coaches them on effective ways to ask people who they may have overlooked.
The design of the volunteer service includes the payment of mileage reimbursement for people who volunteer to drive for neighbors and friends.
According to Woolridge, “The payment of mileage reimbursement makes it much easier for our riders to request transportation assistance because asking for help is more like a business transaction than asking for charity.” A typical conversation between a rider asking for a ride and a potential volunteer often is something like “When you go to the store next week, can I
come with you? I can help pay for the gas.” According to Woolridge, “The payment of a mileage reimbursement for volunteer drivers also helps cement the assistance relationship of drivers with their rider.”
Even though access to medical services is a critical objective of the program, TRIP riders are also able to travel with their volunteer drivers for other purposes that enhance the quality of their lives, alleviate the stress of needing transportation and not having it, maintain continued social connections, and improve their psychological outlook. We received a letter from a 90 year old, wheelchair bound woman who has been receiving TRIP assistance since 2007. She recently had to move to another town that is outside of TRIP’s service area and she wrote us to tell us her thoughts about the service.
In addition to transportation to “various medical offices in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties”, she gives testimony to the “invaluable” impact of the service on her quality of life. She wrote, “TRIP has made it possible for me to keep in touch with friends and family and broadened opportunities for socialization…”.
The TRIP Program of the nonprofit Independent Living Partnership was invented in Riverside County and has been quietly helping thousands of residents without other personal transportation alternatives since 1993. During that time more than 2.25 million escorted rides and 30.5 million miles of transportation have been provided.
Residents of Riverside County can call HelpLink at the Riverside County Office on Aging at 1-800-510-2020 or 951-867-3800 to apply for program service.
Visit the ILP-TRIP website at ILPconnect.org