ASHLAND, Ore. -- Right now, more than half of senior citizens who can't drive stay home because they can't get a ride. That's dangerous, especially for people who need to go to the hospital. Call-A-Ride is trying to fix this problem by giving about 200 senior citizens free rides to the hospital from anywhere in Jackson County.
The program is for seniors sixty or older who need non-emergency rides to the hospital and don't have any other way to get around.
Steve Levine is one of those seniors. He spends a lot of time writing wise proverbs on his phone and taking care of his fish. Three days a week, Levine needs to go to dialysis. Without Call-A-Ride, he wouldn't have money to find a ride to the hospital.
"It's all attitude," said Levine. "I appreciate every breath I have. Every heartbeat to me is like a blessing."
Steve regularly rides with Steve. That's not a typo. The senior and volunteer pair both have the same name and keep the radio off during the drive so they can chat. Both of them said that these shared rides are a blessing.
"Every single one of them, they're angels," said Levine. "We talk about positive stuff."
There are still a lot of seniors who are on the Call-A-Ride waitlist. More volunteers means more seniors can get off the waitlist. Volunteers can drive any amount of time each week. Some people drive five days a week and others give rides once a month. All you need is a car.
Steve Williston is one of Call-A-Ride's 40 regular volunteers. He gives rides to senior citizens three times a week. Williston is retired and said he learns a lot sitting shoulder to shoulder with the seniors he helps.
"I can call him my friend," said Williston. "It's just a great thing and he's such an inspiring person because he's going through so much but he still smiles and treats everyday happily. That's inspirational for me."
Call-A-Ride said they especially need more volunteers in Ashland. A lot of seniors can't physically walk up and down steep streets to wait for the bus. Other options like Uber or Lyft are too expensive.
Call-A-Ride said every new person who signs up to be a volunteer driver means four to ten more seniors can get a ride they need.
For more information about how to speak with your parents or grandparents about when to hang up the keys click here.
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