SIDNEY — Michelle Caserta-Bixler, mobility manager at Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley, is leading a team working to find volunteer drivers to staff RideConnect, a program designed to expand transportation options in a seven-county region. Funding has been secured from the Ohio Department of Transportation for the pilot program. Other partners in the endeavor include Area Agency on Aging 3 and Logan County RTC Services.
RideConnect is focused on transporting individuals to employment and medical and non-medical appointments. Priority will be given to older adults and individuals with disabilities as well as low-income populations who do not have access to other options. The program will allow access for individuals who need transportation outside of traditional transit hours and cannot afford the high cost of private providers.
Ohio counties included in RideConnect are Auglaize, Mercer, Logan, Shelby, Darke, Champaign and Preble. One of the goals is to eliminate gaps in transportation that exist because of the lack of cross-county and region-to-region transport.
The initial phase of implementation of the program is the recruitment and training of volunteer drivers. The volunteer drivers will provide curb-to-curb transportation for passengers who need rides to medical and non-medical destinations. Drivers will use their personal vehicles to transport within their county and adjoining counties. Drivers will be expected to safely operate their vehicles according to State of Ohio driving laws and fill out reporting forms.
Drivers will be thoroughly trained and vetted. Each must have a valid Ohio driver’s license, a good driving record, reliable vehicle, and proof of insurance. Although the position is volunteer, there will be some compensation to account for gas allowances, insurance costs, and vehicle depreciation.
Anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer driver should contact the following persons: in Shelby, Darke or Champaign Counties, contact Michelle Caserta-Bixler at 937-575-7115; in Auglaize or Mercer Counties, contact Beca Sheidler at 567-940-9750; in Logan County, contact Tam Blakely at 937-539-3351; or in Preble County, contact Curt McNew at 937-634-9060.