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The Community Foundation of Sarasota County Awards the Independent Transportation Network of Sarasota County $120,000

May 24, 2011
Donna K. Dunio and Wendy Hopkins,

Wendy Hopkins, Vice President of Grant and Program Services, for The Community Foundation of Sarasota County presents Donna K. Dunio, Executive Director and President of ITNSarasota (the Independent Transportation Network of Sarasota County) with Community Foundation grants totaling $120,000.

Sarasota (5/24/11) – ITNSarasota™ a community based nonprofit agency providing dignified, affordable individual transportation for seniors and adults with visual impairment, has been awarded a $120,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. $100,000 was made possible by the James Franklin Warnell & Dorothy J. Warnell Fund and $20,000 was awarded from the Kathleen K. Catlin Fund. The grant supplements part of the costs for providing this caring program. Member riders can use this unique transportation service as needed 24 hours a day seven days a week; whether it’s to go grocery shopping, to the doctor’s office, for a hair cut, a get-together with friends or to take in a show.

“We would not have been able to launch this safe, affordable, and sustainable transportation alternative to the community without the caring support of the Community Foundation!” says Art Mahoney, ITNSarasota Board Chair. “We implemented this innovative service which enables seniors and visually impaired adults to have access to arm-in-arm, door-through-door, cost-effective transportation when they want it and for whatever reason. Due to the Community Foundation’s on-going support we were one of the fastest growing nonprofits in Sarasota County during our first full year of service. That’s great news for the thousands of older adults and visually impaired in our service area.”

“I’ll be 92 years old on my next birthday, but still want to live life to the fullest, stay active and be involved in the community,” Sarasota resident and ITN member, Isabel said.  “This service allows us to schedule our appointments, shopping, and visits to the Volunteer Friendship Center when we choose and not have to depend on someone else’s availability.” Edie and Ivy told us.  “My son is a good man and he really tries to take me places when I need, but he has a full-time job. ITN takes the pressure off of both of us.” Member rider John said.  “ITNSarasota was a gift to us from our out of state children and it has helped my husband and I regain some of the independence we lost when we stopped driving,” Teresa said.

ITNSarasota is one of 21 ITN affiliates in communities nationwide that replicates the successful, nonprofit membership organization begun in Portland, Maine nearly 20 years ago by Katherine Freund.  Freund, founder and president of ITNAmerica, is a respected national leader and advocate for senior mobility for senior transportation issues.

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County has not only helped us launch this exciting and worthwhile nonprofit service, it has enabled us to keep growing to meet the needs in a county with the largest percentage of older adults in the nation. The Community Foundation is a blessing for so many caring programs, but it will take a diversified base of community support to keep ITN growing,” says ITNSarasota Executive Director, Donna Dunio. “The fees cover about 30% of the cost of providing the ride, we must fundraise the other 70%.  Individuals, businesses, community organizations and most especially Volunteer Drivers are invited to contribute to and participate in this dignified transportation option for seniors and adults with visual impairment.”  Dunio added, “Our Volunteer Drivers are our Heroes — think how rewarding your help and companionship would be to a senior who can no longer get behind the wheel — in this country, once you give-up the keys, your home can feel like a prison!”  For more information on how YOU can become a Volunteer Driver for ITNSarasota call (941) 364-7530 or go online at www.itnsarasota.org.

The Community Foundation of Sarasota Sun Trust