Nonprofit Organization Follows Lead of Local Health Care Facilities
(WATERTOWN, NY) – The Volunteer Transportation Center, Inc. (VTC) is proud to announce it has resumed providing transportation of clients to any medical office taking appointments. The VTC limited transportation for clients March 16 to only life-sustaining appointments out of an abundance of caution aimed at reducing the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
“We had the responsibility as an organization that transports hundreds of people in our communities every day to do our part to slow the spread,” said Sam Purington, Executive Director of the VTC. “Now, with the state moving forward with a plan to bring services back online, we’ve been working with local healthcare facilities to follow their lead and provide our own services wherever needed.”
Those seeking transportation by a VTC volunteer driver are encouraged to contact their healthcare facility to determine if their desired procedure is being offered prior to booking a trip with the VTC, Mr. Purington added. The VTC will also follow the guidance of other states if a client requires transportation outside New York state.
The VTC will continue to offer its Grocery Delivery Program, which it began April 13. The program — which is open to all residents in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties — is offered free of charge to help those in immediate need of groceries but who either face an inability to shop on their own or are taking their own preventative measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“We know we’re not out of the woods with this yet,” said Mr. Purington of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We want to make sure our friends and neighbors in our communities not only get the medical treatments they need but the sustenance they need, too.”
Those in need of assistance from the VTC Grocery Delivery Program may call the agency at 315-788-0422 (Jefferson County), 316-376-3777 (Lewis County) or 315-714-2034 for (St. Lawrence County). Callers will be connected to a VTC representative with our mobile dispatch group who will take down their information to schedule a time for groceries to be picked up or to be shopped for. Appointments are encouraged to be made 24-48 hours in advance in order to allow for the scheduling of a volunteer driver. Needs determined to be critical may be given special consideration on a case-by-case basis for more immediate service.
A VTC representative will work with the caller to determine not only the level of need but the level of service needed as well. If the caller is able to place his or her pre-paid order through a grocery retailer like Wal-Mart, for example, but is unable to pick up his or her groceries, a volunteer driver will be assigned to pick up the order on their behalf. If the order needs to be shopped for by the driver, a driver will be scheduled accordingly and payment arrangements will be coordinated. The VTC will work with each caller to determine the nearest food source.
For more information about the VTC Grocery Delivery Program or any services offered by the VTC, contact the organization’s offices at the numbers above. In addition, the VTC has received several thousand cloth masks from Jefferson County, which were made available from the State Office of Emergency Management. Masks are available for free distribution to Jefferson County residents. Those interested in obtaining free masks may reach out to the Watertown office at 315-788-0422.
ABOUT THE VOLUNTEER TRANSPORTATION CENTER
The Volunteer Transportation Center, Inc. (VTC), established in 1991, drives thousands of miles each year assisting community members in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties. Over the last 20 years, this essential non-profit organization has provided rides to health care appointments, grocery shopping, and other destinations for residents. In 2019, our volunteer drivers provided 30,356 charitable trips over 912,866 miles in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties, an increase in miles of 17.47% over 2018. Of those miles, 424,290 originated in Jefferson County, 141,190 in Lewis County, and 347,386 in St. Lawrence County. The staff, Board of Directors and volunteer drivers look forward to a time when transportation to community activities and services is accessible to all North Country residents regardless of economic or specialized needs. But for now the mission drives on — striving to provide transportation to health, wellness and critical needs destinations utilizing volunteers and mobility management for anyone who has barriers to transportation.
For more information about how you can help the Volunteer Transportation Center, about its upcoming events, or to become a volunteer driver, contact the agency at 315-788-0422. To learn more, visit www.VolunteerTransportationCenter.org.