Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett today announced the launch of the new Recreation Senior Center Transportation Initiative. This new service supports Montgomery County’s commitment to ensure a viable lifetime community, a goal laid out in “A Community for a Lifetime: The Senior Agenda,” produced by the County’s Commission on Aging and Office of the County Executive, and adopted by the County Council in December 2012.
This new service, which began on January 13, will be provided through a contract with the Jewish Council for the Aging (JCA). JCA has earned a positive reputation for providing quality transportation services to seniors for more than 40 years.
“I am extremely proud that we were able to forge this public-private partnership with the JCA and provide this valuable transportation option to our senior population,” said Leggett. “This new initiative continues my priority of enhancing transportation services for seniors helping to make Montgomery County a ‘community for a lifetime.’”
The new program provides a transportation option to neighborhoods that have not previously been accessible to the County’s larger Ride On buses. The JCA ElderBus fleet drivers have specialized training in working with the senior population and have experience responding to individual needs, such as providing them assistance getting on and off the bus, if needed.
The buses provide curb-to-curb service, Monday through Friday, to County residents living within a defined geographic radius of the County’s five senior centers – Damascus, Holiday Park, Long Branch, Margaret Schweinhaut and White Oak. County residents 55 and over are eligible for the bus if they are within the service area for the center.
The public-private collaboration between Montgomery County’s departments of Recreation, Health and Human Services and Transportation and the Jewish Council for the Aging leverages resources that augment transportation options to meet the on-going transportation needs of seniors.
“For many seniors, this transportation program means they have access that they would not otherwise have--access to health programs, nutrition, exercise and other programs that contribute to their vitality,” said Councilmember Nancy Floreen, who serves on the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee. “JCA has an excellent track record when it comes to senior transportation, and I'm glad they have agreed to partner with the County on this project. It will make a real difference in people's lives.”
“As Council President last year, I was pleased to strongly support the ‘Senior Agenda’ by funding this important Recreation Senior Center Transportation Initiative,” said Councilmember Nancy Navarro. “This program will allow our seniors to age in place by accessing services and programs that make Montgomery County a wonderful place to live. JCA is an incredible community organization that we are lucky to partner with for this outstanding program.”
“Getting around in a county like ours certainly does not get easier as one grows older,” said Councilmember Roger Berliner. “But mobility for all our residents remains a high priority, and especially so for our older residents. That's why collaborations like the one we are celebrating today are more important than ever and I express my gratitude to all involved.”
In addition to providing transportation options, the initiative restores the popular Senior Mini-Trips offered by the Recreation Department. These trips, available at the five senior centers and the 11 active adult neighborhood programs, will be able to expand offerings throughout Maryland, DC and Northern Virginia, taking advantage of cultural opportunities in neighboring jurisdictions currently not served by Ride-On.
“This new public-private partnership will help to make the services of our senior centers available to more of our senior population,” said Recreation Director Gabe Albornoz. “In addition to the extensive Recreation activities offered at these centers, important health services are provided, such as nutrition services, fall prevention education and health monitoring and screenings, making them a vital resource for seniors to effectively age in place.”
“For the Jewish Council for the Aging, this is mission-enhancing work,” said Elinor Ginzler, who directs not only the JCA ElderBus fleet but also the philanthropy’s mobility management programs, adult day centers and caregiver support services. “It helps ensure that older adults remain connected to the community in which they take such pride while enabling them to safely reach a vast array of programs that are designed just for them.”
“The Commission on Aging is pleased to be a part of the effort to improve access to vital programs for seniors in Montgomery County,” said Judith Levy, chairperson of the Commission on Aging. “We will continue to advocate for seniors to see the goals of the Senior Agenda fulfilled.”
For more information about the new transportation service, call 240-777-4980. For information about services for seniors in Montgomery County, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/seniors.
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