In San Diego, there are more than 50,000 seniors who lack access to reliable transportation. The American Public Transportation Association reports that compared with those who still drive, older non-drivers make 15 percent fewer visits to the doctor, 59 percent fewer outings to shopping and restaurants, and 65 percent fewer trips to social, family, and religious activities.
Grocery trips, doctor’s appointments, religious services and social programs are hard to get to without a ride. But thanks to Jewish Family Service’s On the Go program, seniors can secure a reliable ride when they need it most. The volunteer-based transportation service couples drivers with seniors in need of rides throughout San Diego county. In fact, newly retired seniors have become the program’s most faithful and dependable drivers for the program.
Volunteer Driver Michael Hess volunteers in Northern San Diego and spends about 9 hours a week driving seniors to medical and personal appointments.
“Now that I am fully retired and have the time, I wanted to do something nice for the community,” he says of his decision to drive with On the Go.
“I like the program because it’s really easy for me. I can pick and choose the rides I want to take and the amount of time that I want to drive. It’s really convenient way to volunteer,” he adds.
Hess says he has taken riders to play bridge, to medical appointments, and grocery stores over his 18 months volunteering with the program and has even made a few friends along the way.
“I have three ladies who I pick up every week [to drive to appointments] and they have become like my friends,” he says. “I take them to the same places [each week], and we chat and its always really enjoyable to help people who don’t drive anymore and it’s an excellent, very well-organized program. I just enjoy it; volunteering to help the community in this way.”
On the Go serves 26 zip codes across San Diego and is open to drivers and riders of all faiths. Individual ride options include: On the Go Navigator —access on-demand transportation anywhere in San Diego County, delivered in partnership with ride-sharing services; On the Go Silver — premium individualized transportation for personal errands and social activities; and Rides & Smiles® — individual door-to-door transportation provided by volunteer drivers to medical appointments and personal destinations. Group shuttle options are also available.
Of the many benefits for drivers, they choose who, when, and where they drive; JFS provides secondary insurance and reimburses every mile of driving; and rides are scheduled via a convenient, web-based scheduling system.
If you’re interested in volunteering with On the Go, call (858) 637-3050. To learn more, visit jfssd.org.