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ITNGC Allows Seniors to Volunteer, Keep Connected in Community

May 30, 2012

Deaconess names “Terrific Ten” Subscribers Who Use Transportation Service to Volunteer

Life doesn’t stop when a senior citizen stops driving. In fact, some Cincinnati seniors who subscribe to the citywide transportation service use it for volunteering as well as shopping, running errands and meeting friends for lunch.

The Independent Transportation Network GreaterCincinnati (ITNGC) has identified its “Terrific Ten” seniors who use the service to volunteer within the community.

They may look like featherweights—averaging 5’2″ and 87 years old– but they are heavyweights in their commitment to their communities and churches.

Betty Lou Niehaus and Theresa Merritt both depend upon ITNGC’s transportation service to take them to tutor Spanish-speaking children in reading in the Norwood and Green Hills school districts.  Why? “I’ve been doing this for 14 years, and I can see the difference I am making in the lives of these children,” says Niehaus.

“ITNGC has given me back my life,” says Merritt. “I would miss terribly my interaction with these children and their parents who use our food bank.”

Volunteering is a life-long priority for the “Terrific Ten.” Regina Saas has volunteered at WGUC every other week for more than 43 years in addition to her weekly volunteering duties at Bethesda North Hospital. And Bethesda Oak’s Gift Shop would be hard-pressed if ITNGC member May Ann Breeden didn’t volunteer every week.

Jean Inkrott and Delores Meehan continue to volunteer at Good Samaritan Hospital after 11 years, and Lee Jones, Louise Stalnaker and Kate Mullee depend upon ITNGC to get to their churches, where they lead bible study groups, provide office support, or teach religious studies to young children.

And we can’t forget Chris Neely, who gives his time to the Mt. Washington Public Library.

“These ten ITNGC members thrive because they have purpose in their lives—they are committed to their community and give freely of their talents to make their slice of the world a better place,” says Nancy Schuster, ITNGC director. “They represent the generous spirit that has made our country great, and ITNGC is proud to be able to able to support their generous spirit by meeting their transportation needs.”

ITNGC is a senior transportation initiative supported by Deaconess Assns. Foundation (DAF). The nonprofit service operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week serving senior citizens (aged 60 plus) and visually-impaired adults. The membership-based organization serves residents inside the I-275 loop and is staffed entirely by volunteer drivers who use their own cars.

Many more seniors may like to join the Terrific Ten, but may be unable to because they lack transportation. Schuster said volunteer drivers are needed to expand this vital service; rider demand is rapidly reaching the maximum availability of the program’s 25 volunteer drivers.

Ridership has increased 82 percent since January, 2012, and more than 7,000 rides have been given since the service opened in May of 2010. Driver commitment can be as little as three hours per month.

Contact Schuster or Phil Schmutz at ITNGreaterCincinnati  at (513) 559-2200 for more information about membership and volunteer driving opportunities. ITNGC is a Deaconess FullLife Initiative.

DAF aims to help older adults experience more vibrant, active and fulfilling lives by providing and supporting programs and resources for senior citizens aging in place. It is an affiliate of Deaconess Associations, Inc. which owns and operates Deaconess Long Term Care facilities in Ohio, Kansas and Missouri, and the Heimlich Institute, dedicated to using the creative portion of our minds in medicine and in life.

DAF senior programs include: FullLife (www.LiveFull.org), a DAF-supported website that offers healthcare products, services, articles, and ideas for seniors and their caretakers; Beyond Driving with Dignity, a driving self-assessment program designed to help older drivers and their families stay safe and work through the complicated issue of assessing age-related, diminishing driving skills; and Deaconess Medical Monitoring, which provides safety systems and products to help its more than 1,200 senior citizen customers maintain a safe and independent lifestyle even while dealing with complicated medical issues.

For more information about DAF programs and resources for senior citizens aging in place, go to www.DeaconessFoundation.org or www.LiveFull.org.

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