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Program provides free rides for seniors
By Chris Strunk
Last Updated: March 16, 2017

Carol Spillman has been giving local senior citizens rides to and from the senior center for some time, she said.

Now, the local senior club will receive money for those trips.

The Valley Center Senior Club recently joined the Sedgwick County RSVP rural transportation program, which is designed as a practical way to encourage seniors to be more active.

The program reimburses the club $7 for each ride registered volunteers provide to senior citizens.

"We've got so many people here at Sunflower Gardens who can't drive anymore," said Spillman, who takes seniors to regular meals at the Community Building in Lions Park. " This gives them an opportunity at least twice a week to get around other people and have a good meal."

Scharlene Porchia-Washington said joining RSVP was a way to benefit the senior club through a service many volunteers were already providing.

"It helps with their quality of life," Porchia-Washington said. "They may not have anyone to talk to all week and that driver may be someone they find a connection with. I feel that's important to have interaction with others."

The volunteer-based program operates simply, Porchia-Washington said.

Porchia-Washington maintains a group of volunteer drivers, while Craig and Jeanne Shove coordinate rides.

Volunteer drivers are not paid, but can request a gas card from the program. Porchia-Washington said volunteer drivers are welcome. They must be 55 or older and go through an application process.

Riders must be 60 or older. There is no charge for transportation.

The program has five volunteers, two of whom were already providing rides on a regular basis.

"We're hoping this program will help find more people who are wishing they had someone to take them and those who may not have family in the area," Porchia-Washington said.

Spillman said she enjoys giving rides, especially to senior club activities.

"We've got a good senior club," she said. "They're just so friendly. We're overflowing. It's a friendly warm place to be."

To volunteer or for a ride:

Anyone 60 or older in Valley Center needing transportation to appointments, shopping or other activities is encouraged to call Craig and Jeanne Shove at 768-6939 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. any day of the week (at least two days in advance).

Anyone 55 or older interested in becoming a volunteer driver is encouraged to call Scharlene Porchia-Washington at 755-7310, extension 109.

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