Saturday, January 22, 2022

Driving and Thriving

What do you know about Neighbor Ride? Here’s what I knew: they help older adults without transportation by providing rides to places like doctors appointments, shopping, church, and social events. I knew they were a nonprofit powered by many volunteers. I have a friend who volunteered with Neighbor Ride and she said it was one of the most rewarding volunteer experiences she’s ever had.

I did a little basic research and learned how it all began:

In 2001, the Howard County Office on Aging conducted extensive research which projected that the county’s senior population would double by the year 2020.  Seniors surveyed in the study identified health care and a lack of transportation options as their top two concerns. Neighbor Ride was founded in 2004 to address these concerns with a safe, friendly and reliable means of senior transportation designed to strengthen connections and help older community members live the life they love. 

Here’s what I didn’t know: requests for rides from area seniors have gone up sharply and Neighbor Ride needs more volunteer drivers than ever to respond to the growing need. From their website:

Neighbor Ride is experiencing a steep rise in requests for rides. Volunteer drivers are needed to:

  • Provide rides for medical appointments, shopping, and other day-to-day needs
  • Make deliveries of food or medical equipment

You can make a difference in the lives of Howard County seniors by driving just twice a month. Simply pick the rides that are convenient to your home and daily routines. Opportunities are available 365 days per year. Be prepared to enjoy a fun and rewarding volunteer experience! To get started call 410-884-7433, email or click here.

The pandemic has contributed to increased isolation for many older adults. Yet they still have the same human needs and desires be independent, take care of themselves, and remain in connection with others. As much as we love Columbia/HoCo, we also have to acknowledge how automobile-centric it is. It truly isn’t possible for many older adults to navigate if they don’t have access to transportation.

To learn more about the requirements for being a Neighbor Ride driver:

Once you indicate your interest, you’ll be scheduled for a 45 minute orientation session: 

Learn the ins and outs of our process and and our easy-to-use database to see if driving for us will work for you. Schedule your 45-minute Orientation by calling, emailing or clicking Join Our Team.

Neighbor Ride is offering the orientation both virtually and in person based on volunteers’s schedules and comfort levels. They have also established common sense protocols to keep riders and drivers COVID-safe.

Those are the basics for getting started.

Now I’m going to reveal the secrets behind my motivation to write this piece. When I started doing my research, on a whim, I went to YouTube. Sure enough, there are some engaging short videos that make the case for Neighbor Ride in a way that text alone simply cannot. Here are a few if you want to dive in and get a better feel for what this amazing service is like. 

From about 10 years ago: Neighbor Ride, Inc.  (4.30)

More Recently, around 2018: Neighbor Ride, Connecting Our Community (3.01)

Neighbor Ride 2011 Audrey Robbins Humanitarian Award - - Volunteer Team (4.01)

Neighbor Ride Coordinators 2019 ACX Humanitarian Community Impact Award (3.33)

And, finally, a short informational piece made to promote charitable giving for Giving Tuesday in 2021:

Neighbor Ride Giving Tuesday (1.25)

Take a look. Whether you are a potential driver or donor, or see yourself as someone who may be needing rides, these videos will give you the information you need to see how you might connect. Not to be underestimated: you’ll be informed enough to tell your friends. And that’s vital to the ongoing success of a volunteer-driven organization like Neighbor Ride. They need to continue to make new connections in the community in order to keep this vital service both surviving and thriving.

You can help.

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