Senior ride assist program looking for more volunteers to expand services

Senior ride assist program looking for more volunteers to expand services

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A program that provides free transportation to seniors citizens in Horry and Georgetown counties is looking to expand.

It seems more volunteers are needed to keep up with the demand for services.

Neighbor to Neighbor is a ride assist program for seniors over the age of 60. It's similar to Uber, only it's free and their services are provided through volunteers.

The program has been in place for eight years, but only recently have they seen more demand.

Clara Schwartz, 86, of Myrtle Beach, has been using the program for several years. Often times her son works, and unable to take her places. Her husband of 48 years passed away, so it's just her, but she's glad the service helps her get out and stay active.

"The drivers are ... they're guardian angels, each and every one of them," Schwartz said.

The program helps seniors who are still active and mobile but otherwise unable to drive get to their desired destinations, like doctor appointments, grocery stores, and places like the Grand Strand Senior Center. The latter is a place Schwartz likes to visit on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week.

"On Tuesdays they have bingo, and on Thursdays they have lunch and this thing called Yack and Yarn," Schwartz said.

Volunteers use their own cars and gas to help their neighbors out of the kindness of their heart.

"Without these people volunteering, it would be much more difficult to cope," Schwartz said.

Roxanne Mills, an administrative volunteer and driver for Neighbor to Neighbor, said the program not only gets seniors out of the house, but helps them when sometimes there is no one, thereby giving them someone they can trust.

Neighbor to Neighbor serves close to 300 seniors in Horry and Georgetown counties. In 2016,  the program conducted more than 6,000 free transports and the number is growing.

"We're getting approximately 30 new clients a month, and we're not getting volunteers at the same rate," Mills said.

She added the goal is to expand the program to places where they are seeing more requests, including Conway, Little River, Loris, and Myrtle Beach. The group is also looking for more volunteer drivers.

"We can meet somewhere, get them trained, get them interested, and then they can become a driver," Mills said.

She added this service is not just about a ride.

"It's about the conversation, it's about the relationship, it's more than just getting them to an appointment," Mills said. "It's the most unselfish thing you can be doing to help your neighbors, because some day you might be in the same situation and you might need the same help."

A volunteer meeting is scheduled for Sept. 21. For more information on getting involved, click here.

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