By Jeff Gallatin
Seniors and adults with disabilities in North Olmsted will be able to get on a bus in the evenings and weekends starting this spring after the Senior Transportation Connection recently received one of six federal grants in the country for developing accessible transportation programs.
Officials at the Senior Transportation Connection were recently notified the organization has received a $50,000 federal grant from the National Aging and Transportation Center for developing practical, sustainable innovations in accessible transportation for North Olmsted residents over 60 and adults with disabilities. It is one of six grants awarded throughout the United States and one of two in Ohio, with the other going to a Cincinnati cancer care agency. The Senior Transportation Connection will team up with the city of North Olmsted, Services for Independent Living and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency to develop and run the program.
Janice Dzigiel, executive director of the Senior Transportation Connection, said the group is thrilled to have the opportunity to pilot a transportation service to meet the needs of older adults and disabled residents of North Olmsted.
“We look forward to providing expanded service options during evenings and weekends,” she said. “This is a new dimension of our work and is intended to support the social, spiritual and recreational needs of our consumers.
“STC values the partnership of the city of North Olmsted, Services for Independent Living and Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency in implementing the new service. We just had our first meeting of our partners, and we’re very excited about the enthusiasm and energy at the table.”
Jackie Chavez-Anderson, administrator for the North Olmsted Senior Center, said the city is pleased to be working with the Senior Transportation Connection in another area.
“We have a great working relationship with them,” she said. “They have already done a great job of providing services and rides for our seniors.”
Chavez-Anderson said the new services will benefit North Olmsted seniors.
“With the grant, Senior Transportation Connection services will allow the opportunity for senior citizens to broaden their social skills and will afford them the mobility to attend events that can take place on the weekends and at night. Seniors will be able to have the occasion to participate in social, recreational, worship and community events take place on nights and weekends, such as concerts in the park, free community meals and Homecoming days, just to name a few.
“I am so thankful that STC has chosen the city of North Olmsted as its pilot program community. The Senior Center staff are committed to making this program a success and we will assist STC with promoting the service, assisting seniors with transportation enrollment and creating opportunities for seniors and adults with disabilities to expand on options to be more active for the community.”
Dzigiel said the STC plans to start STC Plus services in early spring, with a goal of serving 200 individuals providing 1,000 trips before the end of the year.
North Olmsted City Council President Nicole Dailey Jones said receiving the grant speaks well of the services by Senior Transportation Connection and the services it provides.
“It’s going to add to seniors’ quality of life to attend events and places that they have been unable to do so for awhile,” she said. “It’s a great additional service that we’ll be able to provide now in North Olmsted.”