Hits New Milestones in March
Volunteer Drivers Needed
iTNSunCoast Hits New Milestones in March Volunteer Drivers Needed
For the first time since it started offering services in 2010, iTNSunCoast provided more than 800 rides in one month. “March was a record month for us,” said Arthur Lerman, Executive Director. “We gave 830 rides. This is by far the busiest month we have ever had and compares with 202 rides provided a year ago in March of 2015. We also set a new daily record of 56 rides a few weeks ago.”
iTNSunCoast is a Sarasota based, non-profit organization that provides rides to individuals who are at least sixty years old and adults of any age with vision impairments. The organization’s mission is to help individuals maintain their independence and live joyful and meaningful lives through a convenient, comfortable and affordable transportation option when driving a car themselves is not sensible or safe. Started in 2009 through a joint effort between Jewish Family and Children’s Services of the Suncoast and The Community Foundation of Sarasota County, iTNSunCoast has provided more than 30,000.
“I think we have hit a tipping point in community awareness of our existence”, said Don Deibert, a member of the iTN Board of Directors. “While doing very little marketing, we are signing up new members nearly every day. People hear about us from their friends, doctors or others. While the number of ride requests has grown significantly, we believe we are just scratching the surface in meeting the community need for our services. We expect to see continued increases in the number of rides we provide as the word about us spreads.”
iTNSunCoast provides rides mostly to individuals in their 80s and 90s for any reason, any day of the week, at any time, to anywhere from Bradenton to Northport, including Longboat Key. Rides are provided mostly by volunteer drivers who use their own cars. To make a ride request you need to become a member of iTNSunCoast and call to make a ride request by noon the day before you need a ride. Drivers provide whatever support an individual needs to get from their home to the vehicle and from the vehicle to their destination. There is a charge for rides in order to cover operational expenses.
“Since we rely heavily on volunteer drivers, we are in desperate need of more volunteers,” said Lerman. “This is especially the case in light of the rapid increase in the request for rides.” Volunteers can provide as few as one or two rides a month, get mileage reimbursement to cover the cost of gas, and can “bank” ride credits for their future use or to give to a family member or friend.
“Being a volunteer driver is a wonderful experience,” added Linda Davis, another member of the Board of Directors. “You meet interesting people who are very thankful for the ride. Driving gives you a few feel good moments that can last throughout the day. Being a volunteer driver has changed my life”
For more information, call 941-364-7530 or visit www.itsuncoast.org.