In 2008, Jewish Family Service of San Diego created the On the Go transportation program for older adults. It provides donation-based and low-cost transportation for seniors to help them be more independent and connected to the community. Volunteers drive riders to doctor's appointments, the grocery store, the theatre, shopping, and more.
As the largest volunteer-based transportation service in San Diego County, older adults depend on On the Go. When On the Go component Rides & Smiles began in 2004, it provided 365 rides to approximately 50 riders. Now, just four years after the program began, JFS is thrilled to celebrate the program's 100,000th ride with a campaign to recruit more volunteers.
On Jan. 13, dozens gathered at Congregation Beth Israel in La Jolla for a celebration of the achievement. JFS CEO Jill Borg Spitzer thanked the people who've made the program a success--the staff, donors, volunteers, the Jewish Community Foundation, Jewish Senior Services Council, and the Jewish Federation.
The volunteer driver who gave the 100,000th ride was Bill Farrar, a retired police officer who has provided nearly 100 rides since May 2010. The rider was Sara "Suzanne" Tell, 80.
"I was so excited about being the 100,000th ride," said Tell. "All the volunteers are wonderful."
Suzanne is active at the College Avenue Center and receives transportation primarily to help her get to her medical appointments. She used to work with JFS and has volunteered with the agency since 1997.
"We're delighted to celebrate this remarkable milestone with Suzanne," said Brenda Bothel, Director of Transportation for On the Go. "We're honored to have reached this 100,000 rides milestone as part of our continuing commitment to the San Diego community."
Another dedicated volunteer, Wayne Bradbury (recipient of JFS's Jack Stern Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service in 2010), has given over 3,000 rides in four years. At the celebration, he addressed the crowd and said with a smile, "You don't get any money, but it's the best job in the world."
On the Go's services are available to anyone older than 60 and has three different components. "Rides & Smiles" provides one-on-one rides to individuals to get to medical and personal appointments, synagogues and senior centers. "On the Go Shuttles," is a shuttle service that provides group transportation to and from various locations, like shopping malls, restaurants, synagogues, and more. "On the Go Excursions," takes group on field trips to cultural and social events throughout San Diego.
On the Go covers North County Inland, Northern San Diego, and Eastern San Diego, with plans to expand to Tierrasanta and Carmel Valley. The program has more than 250 volunteer drivers with a goal of adding 100 more in 2012. On the Go offers its volunteers totally flexible hours, convenient web-based scheduling, mileage reimbursement, secondary insurance provided by JFS, and the chance to give an older adult independence, mobility, and joy.
Please visit On the Go for information on how to participate.