Volunteer drivers needed for Caribou area ride service

1 year ago

The Center for the Advancement of Rural Living will hold an informational meeting in an effort to recruit more volunteer drivers for the Caribou Area Ride Service. The meeting will be held at noon on Friday, March 10 at the Par and Grill Restaurant in Caribou.

Individuals over the age of 18 with a clean driver’s license and a reliable vehicle are being invited to help serve the transportation needs of older adults in the City of Caribou.

CARS is a pilot project funded by a Community Development Block Grant. The program is designed to use volunteer drivers to help older adults get to medical appointments, shopping or social events in the Caribou community. During the pilot project rides are made available to anyone 65 or older or who may be visually impaired and who lives in the 04736 zip code.  Sharon Berz is coordinator of the CARS program.

“We have a growing number of older adults who no longer drive and are in need of low cost transportation services,” said Berz. “We have been providing rides over the past several months but we simply do not have enough drivers. Our program provides mileage reimbursement to the volunteer drivers and an additional insurance rider to their existing insurance policy. We have been very pleased with our initial efforts and the demand is growing.”

Transportation has been sighted for many years as a major barrier to older adults. Without transportation older adults can become isolated and experience loneliness, depression or other health problems. Having access to reliable, low cost transportation can have a major impact on mental health. Using volunteer drivers helps to create low overhead and has kept the cost of rides to $4 round trip within Caribou.   

While there are other transportation services that are a great benefit to the County, the CARS program is a personalized service and can adapt to individual needs of riders. Coordinator Berz points out that most of the volunteer drivers serving the program are older adults who see the need.  

“Most all of our current drivers are over 65 and they understand the challenges of transportation,” Berz said. “They have a great volunteer attitude and are really making an impact. We hope that more individuals will help make a difference in our community by becoming a volunteer.” 

Volunteer drivers do not need to live in Caribou. Anyone interested in learning more about the volunteer driver program is invited to attend the meeting or call Berz at 207-551-5672.