Archive for the ‘ITNAmerica’ Category

Age-Friendly Maine News: ITNCountry and Age Friendly Communities in Maine

June 15, 2016

ITNCountry and Age Friendly Communities in MaineFor more than 20 years, the Independent Transportation Network has provided door-through-door and arm-through-arm transportation for older people and people with visual impairments in the Greater Portland area. Using both paid and volunteer drivers, ITN provides rides 24/7 in private automobiles, and it is does not rely on taxpayer dollars. Some ITN members have used the service from more than 18 years. Although 40 percent of rides are for healthcare, ITN takes people to work, to shopping and to the hairdresser. Members even use the service to take pets to the veterinarian or to go on dates.

Maine has almost 500 municipalities, so over the years, many communities have reached out to ITN to expand service to their older or visually impaired residents. Until now, ITN always had to say “sorry.” Now there may be a way to offer ITN’s innovative programs to communities of every size, in Maine and other states.

The new approach is called ITNCountry and ITN’s founder, Katherine Freund, is already working with several small and rural communities in Maine, as well as one each in Pennsylvania, Vermont and Arizona, to develop the new rural model.

There are several proposed differences between the original ITN and the rural model. The original is an entirely separate non-profit organization, but ITNCountry can be a program within another organization. The original ITN guarantees a ride 24/7 for any purpose, while ITNCountry service parameters will be established by the local communities. Because it is practically impossible to guarantee a ride 24/7 with no paid staff, the original ITN has both paid and volunteer drivers and staff. But small, rural communities often run on little or no paid staff, so ITNCountry will be designed to run with only volunteers, if that is what the community chooses to do. Another proposed difference will be how ITNCountry communities learn how to run the service. ITN will build a large on-line learning community where all of ITN’s innovative programs are taught and supported.

With all of these differences, what is proposed to stay the same? The important stuff—all of ITN’s award winning programs, like CarTrade, Transportation Social Security, Ride & Shop, Healthy Miles, Ride Services, and Personal Transportation Accounts. In these programs, older people may trade the cars they can no longer drive to cover the cost of their rides, or volunteers may earn credits for their volunteer effort and bank them to plan for their own future needs. An adult child may volunteer in Bowdoinham and send her volunteer credits to a parent who lives in Bethel, where an ITNCountry volunteer will drive her mother, father or grandparent. Merchants and healthcare providers can help pay for rides through Ride & Shop or Healthy Miles and everything, all of these programs, are built into the software. Best of all, the software will connect every participating community through one information system, across the State of Maine.

If you or your community would like to learn more or participate in ITNCountry, please contact Katherine at or call 207-591-6926.

Katherine Freund, ITNAmerica Founder and President Assembles An Expert Panel for Game Changing Dialogue- Senior Mobility in Transit: Nothing Will Ever Be the Same Again.

January 7, 2016

Monday, January 11th from 10:15AM-12:00PM Katherine Freud will lead a discussion panel during the 95th annual Transportation Research Board Meeting in Washington, DC. The panel of experts will explore the impact of connectivity as a game changer for increasing mobility options for Seniors on a National and International basis. Experts from Uber, Lyft, AARP Life Reimagined and Princeton University will discuss new collaborations, changing expectations, special needs, smart cars and a rapidly changing landscape in senior transportation.

To view the full program scheduled, go to the interactive Transportation Research Board 95th Annual Program Guide

Road Warrior: Volunteer ride service is in high demand in Bergen County

December 7, 2015
Gloria Reinish of Emerson with her driver, Mary Lyons Kim. Reinish has been teaching electrical engineering at Fairleigh Dickinson University for more than 50 years.

Gloria Reinish of Emerson with her driver, Mary Lyons Kim. Reinish has been teaching electrical engineering at Fairleigh Dickinson University for more than 50 years.

Almost everybody knows Bergen County’s senior population is huge, but nobody was certain that a recently launched low-cost, volunteer ride service designed specifically for the elderly and visually impaired would succeed. After all, Bergen is an affluent, densely populated county with taxis, commercial bus routes, municipal senior vans and a few local senior-ride programs — to say nothing of Uber and Lyft.

But last spring, nearly all doubt was erased when phones at ITN America’s new North Jersey affiliate in Wyckoff started ringing off the hook. By November, ridership topped 100 and weekly rides reached 105.

“We knew there was big demand here because so many seniors need rides, but this is amazing,” said John Boswick, the affiliate’s president and chief executive.

Read the full article online here

Harvard Health Publications: Stay behind the wheel longer

September 25, 2015

A driving assessment program can help identify your strengths and weaknesses and suggest ways to improve your driving skills. The sense of freedom and independence that comes with driving is as important at 65 as it is at 16. But driving skills may start to falter as we age, an issue many people choose to ignore. “We all seem to be in denial about driving in our older years. No one wants to give it up. The good news is that you may not have to,” says Lissa Kapust, a social worker at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Read the entire article here

Road Warrior: A transportation godsend for seniors and the blind

July 2, 2015
ITN North Jersey volunteer driver Elizabeth Brand, left, assisting Joanne Divney, a Wyckoff senior who cannot drive.

ITN North Jersey volunteer driver Elizabeth Brand, left, assisting Joanne Divney, a Wyckoff senior who cannot drive.

Although legally blind since her early 20s, 57-year-old Johanna Baccan now has a realistic opportunity to return to school to get her real-estate license.

“For the first time, I won’t have to rely on friends, family or expensive taxicabs to get me to school or any other place I want to go,” Baccan explained as she waited for a ride outside her Mahwah condo. “This is a very liberating moment for me.”

Liberation for her and many others may have arrived courtesy of a non-profit, grass-roots transportation service – ITNAmerica - that last month added North Jersey to its national network of neighborhood volunteers who provide low-cost, 24-hour rides to seniors and visually handicapped adults seven days a week.

Read the full article online here

MPBN: Transportation Network Helps Elderly Mainers Get Around and Stay Connected

June 15, 2015

ITN Founder and President Katherine Freund

PORTLAND, Maine – Spurred on by a traumatic personal experience, Katherine Freund of Portland has spent the last two decades helping the elderly and visually impaired access what she calls “dignified transportation.”

Next week she’ll be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Independent Transportation Network that she created.

ITN provides rides to seniors who no longer feel safe behind the wheel. Over the years, the network has grown from a local operation to one that helps thousands of people in 21 states. But it’s not growing fast enough to meet the needs of a rapidly aging population.

It’s 1:30 on a weekday afternoon in Westbrook and 86-year-old Rose Novick is getting a ride home from the furniture store where she works.

Listen to the interview online here An Affordable Alternative for Older Adults Who Can’t Drive

April 1, 2015

When three-year-old Ryan Walsh was hit by an 84-year-old driver, his mother, Katherine, did something that most people would find difficult (if not impossible) to do.

“I put myself in the shoes of the older gentleman who was in the car. I wouldn’t want to be the person who ran over a child,” she says. “It was a horrible situation for everyone involved and he shouldn’t have been behind the wheel. So I asked myself, how did it happen? Why was he driving when he shouldn’t be driving?”

This line of questioning led Freund down several paths towards a potential solution for preventing other families’ lives from being turned upside down by an unsafe older driver. First, she considered trying to create a fool-proof test to screen for hazardous drivers and prevent them from operating a motor vehicle. But even a perfectly-developed driving evaluation wouldn’t address the important underlying issue of an older adult’s desire to remain mobile and independent.

Read the full article online here

Huffington Post: Here’s How To Get Dangerous Older Drivers Off The Road

March 12, 2015

More than 25 years ago, Katherine Freund’s life changed course in the blink of an eye. An 84-year-old driver struck and seriously injured her toddler son; the driver kept going and later said he mistook the little boy for a dog. The 1988 incident remains painful for Freund to talk about even today, but two remarkable things came from it: Her son fully recovered from his broken bones and traumatic brain injury and grew into a kind and aware man, and instead of being devoured by anger at the driver who struck her child, Freund focused her attention on what she calls the “real problem” behind the accident.

And that problem is this: Older unsafe drivers stay on the road because they have no choice. Cars are seen as the key to independence and without them, our worlds shrivel. The average American outlives his/her ability to drive by about 10 years and the quality of their lives diminishes when they relinquish their private transportation, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Read the full article online here

Huffington Post: 8 Smart Ideas People Have Had About Aging In Place

March 12, 2015

Happy Senior CitizensBaby boomers have long proclaimed their desire to stay in their homes post-retirement, a practice known as aging in place. They want to stay in the communities where they have friends, know their way around and have a support network. Cities and communities have “heard” them and many places are preparing for the groundswell of what happens when their residents creep up in years. Building a senior citizen center is nice, but clearly there’s more to it than having a place to play Bingo. Here are a few of the programs and trends that are making a difference in the lives of the nation’s aging population.

1. Solve the “driving is my independence” problem once and for all.
Older drivers have slower reaction times and more vision issues. Per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase starting at age 75 and increase notably after age 80, according to the Centers for Disease Control. But the ability to drive is synonymous with independence and independent living, so many older people are reluctant to give up their automobiles.

Read the full article online here

AARP-Utah: Participate in the #Sharearide Challenge and National Storybook Tour

March 4, 2015

Katherine Freund, founder of ITNAmerica

ITNAmerica declares 2015 the year to give an older person a ride

ITNAmerica‘s mission is to support sustainable, community-based transportation services for seniors throughout the world by building a senior transportation network through research, policy analysis and education, and by promoting lifelong safety and mobility.

Across America, communities large and small are struggling to meet the transportation needs of seniors. Everywhere, the issues are the same:

  • How to provide the kind of door-through-door service older people want and need
  • How to recruit enough volunteer drivers, and how to manage insurance
  • How to arrange rides, especially in rural and suburban communities
  • How to pay for it all

Read the full article online here