More on Transportation

Aging in Place in Darien is making progress on helping seniors with transportation. The Red Cross and our town's Gallivant will be trying to share resources. Strategic alliances work in business, why not nonprofits and governments? We also are trying to institute a taxi voucher service, similar to one in Stamford, CT.

Here are links to articles and papers about taxi vouchers:

Aging in Place in Northwest Ann Arbor, MI

I put out a call to organizations nationwide that are helping people age in place to see if they would be willing to share their information on my blog. The first place I heard from was the Dexter-Miller Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They have a really cool model, similar to Community Without Walls in Princeton, NJ. Here is their flyer and website:

The Dexter-Miller Community, Ann Arbor, Michigan 8/11/2008

The Dexter-Miller Community (DEXMIL) is a non-profit neighborhood services cooperative, incorporated in Michigan in 2008. Members are willing to exchange services with each other to simplify and enhance their quality of life. Members agree that every service exchanged in the community has equal value based solely on the time spent providing it and that everyone has something to offer.

MembershipMembership is limited to 300 households in Northwest Ann Arbor. There is a $15.00 initiation fee plus dues of $12.00 per year. Each member’s name and contact information with services and equipment offered is listed in the DEXMIL Community Directory available only to other community members.

Accounting SystemMembers receive scrip worth 16 DEXMILS (DM) upon joining and earn more by providing services or lending equipment to others in the community. One DM equals fifteen minutes of service or one hour’s loan of equipment. Under special circumstances the Board of Directors may sell or grant additional DMs to specific households.ProcessA Directory listing the services and equipment offered by each household is updated periodically.

Members seeking services or equipment loans simply search the Directory for another household offering that service or equipment. They can then call or email a provider directly and arrange the exchange. Members may occasionally consult a member of the Board of Directors for help in finding or arranging exchanges.

Additionally, a list of Professional Service providers recommended by other coop members is maintained on our website together with contact information and satisfaction ratings from community members. Professional Service providers may be contacted directly but checking with a Director first may help to find a provider offering discounts for multiple jobs in our area over the same time period.

Almost any type of service can be offered and exchanged but the following types have been identified as important to most members:
Home repairs Computer assistance
Lawn & garden care Equipment exchange
Vacation care for pets & plants House cleaning
Mending, tailoring, sewing Books/records exchange
Seasonal: Snow & leaf removal,
IRS forms etc. Driving

More Information View our website at:

ITN America

ITN America – Independent Transportation Network

On October 21, 2008, Alyssa Israel and I attended a talk by the founder of ITN America and ITN Portland in Maine. The talk was at the Westport Senior Center, sponsored by United Way of Coastal Fairfield, United Way of Norwalk and Wilton, Westport Commission for Senior Services, and Weston Department of Social Services.

ITN CEO Katherine Freund has worked on ITN for the past 18 years. Other cities and areas are adopting her model.

Westport and its surrounding towns are considering starting an ITN in coastal Fairfield County. Connecticut already has two ITNs – Middletown and Enfield.

Key Points
· American households spend 25% of their income on transportation. 91% of people’s trips outside their homes are made in cars, 8% by walking.

· ITN is a local solution to the senior transportation challenge. It’s an example of “social entrepreneurship” – using an entrepreneurial business model to meet a social need.
o ITN started by discovering what the needs were and then designing a solution.

· ITN replicates private vehicle ownership using public and private resources in partnership.

· ITN uses technology (computers and telecommunications) to create an efficient system to use excess capacity in private vehicles;
o sharing rides, dispatched by a central office,
o driven by volunteers using their own cars or fleet cars that were donated,
o passengers pay
o volunteers are reimbursed for gas and maintenance on a per mile basis.
o Rides are available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day for any purpose.
o Riders get a 20% discount for sharing a ride and a 50% discount for reserving the ride 24 hours in advance.
o Scholarships are available on a needs-basis.

· Half the expenses of the organization are funded by fares. The rest comes from membership fees, donations from local businesses and corporations, grants from governments or foundations and an annual fundraiser.
o People can donate cars and get credits that they use to get rides or enable a relative to get a ride. Volunteering works the same way.

· Good for the local economy because it enables seniors to get out and shop, go to medical appointments and socialize (go to restaurants, movies, concerts, worship).

· Costs $125,000 to get launched and pay for the software. (It’s a bit like a franchise.)

· CT may have a $50,000 transportation grant available to help start such an enterprise.

· Connecticut insurance and livery laws have been changed to allow this.
o Drivers must have special license.

Senior Transportation for Darien and New Canaan

Here is useful information on transportation alternatives for seniors in Darien, New Canaan and Stamford, Connecticut. I'll be writing more later.


Gallivant – Available Monday to Friday – 9 am – 4 pm. Must make reservations at least 24 hours in advance by calling 655-2227 between 8 am and 1 pm. A donation of $5 round trip is requested. The van is wheelchair accessible and will drive door-to-door to all sorts of appointments, including out-of-town medical appointments. For seniors and physically impaired adults. The van has a professional driver.

The Darien Red Cross (655-2586/ will take seniors and disabled people to medical appointments. They will also do shopping for home-bound seniors. Both services require 48 hours notice. Seniors must be ambulatory to be able to use the free, volunteer-run medical-appointment rides. For the shopping service, they must provide a list and the cash needed. Change is returned with the groceries and receipt. Long- or short-term service is available. The Red Cross needs volunteer drivers who use their own cars. They also have an SUV, which they use to transport people. CT Transit/Norwalk Transit provides “Easy Access” for seniors and disabled riders (who must be ADA certified) with curb-to-curb service within Norwalk, Darien, Stamford, and Greenwich. Service is available three-fourths of a mile from the Post Road in Greenwich and Darien and to the Riverview mall in Norwalk. It is run by Norwalk Transit. For information, call 299-5180 (voice) or 299-5183 (TDD).

The Darien Library will bring books to home-bound seniors.

Senior Nutrition will bring meals.

Houses of Worship have volunteers who will drive seniors to worship services.

Family and Children’s Agency will provide drivers and/or companions to take seniors shopping, to medical appointments or to other appointments. The fee is $20/hour, with a minimum of 2 hours.
FCA receives financial assistance from the Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging, the United Way, the Obie Harrington-Howes Foundation, and other charitable foundations. You must be at least 60 years of age. Donation of $10 per hour is requested. Call 203.831.2900 for more information on how you may qualify for fee assistance.

Taxi Vouchers – Share the Fare Taxi Program -
The City uses a state grant to fund a program of providing half-price taxi ride vouchers to seniors. Seniors pay $2.5 for a $5 voucher by buying the vouchers from the city in books of ten. The seniors use the vouchers to pay for taxi rides. The taxi companies redeem the vouchers with the city and get paid the full face amount. Seniors must pay for portions of a voucher and for tips with cash.

Senior Services of Stamford – provides a food shopping and friendly visitor service for low-income seniors.
New Canaan
Get About
Get About is open from 7:30 am to 4 pm. Serves New Canaan residents and only drives out of town to Norwalk for medical appointments. Need to make appointments 2 days in advance, 3 days for Norwalk appointments. The fee is $3.00 each way. Medical appointments are free and are funded by a state grant. They have five vehicles and nine part-time retired men - 60 to 70 years old – who are the paid drivers with Public Service licenses. They provide about 1,600 trips per year. The dispatcher has a paid position. They saw a large increase in rides after hiring a full-time office manager/dispatcher. He schedules 2 minivans (Toyota Siennas), Chevy Intervan (wheelchair lift), Chevy high top, Ford 12 passenger van.

The annual budget is $200,000 -- $40,000 from town, $14,000 from United Way, State Grant monies, private fundraising – (personalized solicitation and thank-you notes bring in monies), $75,000 raised via cocktail party and silent auction. They have quarterly publicity and get out the word via churches, board members, doctors. They have a varied board with school parents, church members, country clubs, senior men, etc.

Staying Put in New Canaan – uses members as volunteer drivers. Members help members to get places on weekends and evenings and also to medical appointments in Stamford and Greenwich. They have a very active membership. SPINC rents the Get About vans for their social evenings.

Aging in Place - Transportation for Seniors - Darien, CT

Faith in Action – Aging in Place

The First Congregational Church of Darien's Aging in Place initiative is simple. We’re trying to make it easier for our older church members to stay in their homes as long as they’d like. When we asked people how we could help them do this, three things came up – getting information/news, getting around, and getting things done. When we started two years ago, we created a mission statement: To help seniors to live independently, comfortably, easily and with dignity in their own homes as long as possible.

Within our church, our AIP committee, the Handyman Corps, CareNet, the Caring Committee, Deacons and the clergy are all working together to ensure that all our members have access to church and community news, continue to feel that they are an active part of our church family, can secure rides to church and medical appointments, get help with shopping, and get help with completing small handyman tasks at home. If anyone has any ideas of how we can accomplish our goals better, please give Wyn a call at 655-6968. If you need a hand, or if you want to give back by volunteering, please call Shannon Wall or Wyn.

We’re also joining hands with the town-wide effort, Aging in Place in Darien, which is being run out of the Community Fund. AIP in Darien has hired a professional coordinator, Alyssa Israel, with seed funds provided by the Community Fund. Wyn Lydecker is representing our church on the organization’s Board of Directors, and she is heading up the transportation committee. We figure if all the service organizations and churches in our area can join together, we can accomplish our shared mission of – Helping Darien Seniors live independently, comfortably and with dignity in their own homes as long as possible. (They quoted from our mission statement with our committee’s permission.)

We’ve put out copies of the latest Senior Resource Directory, published by the Commission on Aging and Darien Social Services. Look for them on one of the front tables at church. If we run out, and you’d like your own copy, please call 656-7328. To access the directory online, go to:

Wyn has learned that there are many sources of transportation available for Darien Seniors. All theses services are also available for people with disabilities.
· First, there’s Gallivant, which uses a van and professional drivers. The suggested donation for a ride in the Gallivant is $5.00 for a round trip. Gallivant will take you to medical appointments, hair appointments, the store, the Senior Center, your club, the DCA, you name it. It’s available Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s a private-public partnership. Call 655-2227 to make a reservation. For information, call Darien Social Services at 656-7328. The van is wheelchair accessible.
· The Red Cross will drive anyone to medical appointments free of charge. You must make a reservation. Call: 655-2586. Red Cross volunteers will also do your shopping, if you can’t get out. By-the-way, the Red Cross also needs more volunteers to do driving and shopping. This is a wonderful way to give back.
· CT Transit can also help with transportation, if you live within three-quarters of a mile of a bus route. Call Dispatch-a-Ride at 299-5190.

If you don’t want to call our own handyman corps, AIP in Darien has a vetted services list of professionals you can hire to do work in your home. AIP in Darien is also working with St. Luke’s Small Tasks Ministry to provide free handyman services. Call Alyssa at 202-2912 to arrange services or to volunteer.

This fall we hope to get all of the church youth groups, Indian Guides and Princesses, high school volunteers and Boy and Girl Scouts to create one big volunteer group to rake leaves at the homes of seniors who are shut-in and cannot afford to hire landscapers.

Darien Seniors can join Aging In Place in Darien for free. Just call Alyssa to sign up – 202-2912. Call Wyn at 655- 6968 if you have questions, want to give back by volunteering to help those in our church or if you need some sort of help from your church family.

Darien Aging In Place Up and Running

Aging In Place in Darien now has a coordinator and a Board of Directors. We are not a 501c-3. We are not following the Beacon Hill Model. Rather, we've reached out to all area services -- nonprofit and for-profit -- to see what is out there. We've run a summit of service providers. We're conducting a survey and making a list. Then we'll refer people to what is already in existence. Communication will be key.

Our Community Fund is funding the part-time coordinator's salary. This is really exciting.