(WATERTOWN, NY) – The Volunteer Transportation Center, Inc. (VTC) is offering rides to those with appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Through collaborations with health care organizations in Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence and Oswego Counties, the VTC is offering transportation free of charge to those eligible for the vaccine in accordance to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Currently, the vaccine as available to those in Group 1A – residents of long-term care facilities and health care personnel – and Group 1B – persons age 75 years and old and frontline essential workers.
“We at the Volunteer Transportation Center knew, when vaccinations would begin to roll out, we would want to be there getting the people of our communities to these crucial appointments,” said VTC Executive Director Sam Purington. “We’ve often said our volunteers drive healthy outcomes and this coordination is a perfect example of that.”
The mission of the VTC is “to provide transportation to health, wellness and critical needs destinations utilizing volunteers and mobility management for anyone who has barriers to transportation.”
That mission, said Mr. Purington, aligns perfectly with the offering of rides to COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
“Our hope is we can play even a small role in helping our communities get vaccinated and bring about an end to this pandemic,” he said.
Due to the increased offering of transportation service for vaccination appointments, there is an increased need for volunteer drivers, said Mr. Purington.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen a fluctuation in the availability of volunteer drivers,” he said. “In the beginning, we saw some volunteers step back from driving as we worked to understand how COVID was spread. However, as we’ve learned more about the virus and because we’ve worked to provide personal protective equipment to each of our drivers to keep both them and our clients safe, we’ve seen our core group of volunteers steadily increase to where we were before the pandemic.”
However, Mr. Purington added, the need for more drivers is still there. Mileage reimbursement is provided, he noted.
“This is also the time of year when some of our drivers have gone south for the winter,” he explained. “While we know they will return with the return of warmer weather, having more volunteers on hand – especially with offering this incredibly essential service – would be a huge help to meet demand.”
“In return, you get a great feeling of doing something good for your community and we offer generous mileage reimbursement, too,” he said.
Those wishing to make an appointment for a ride to a COVID-19 vaccination must first schedule their appointment and then coordinate with the VTC to fill out paperwork to become an approved client at no cost. Appointments must be made at least two days in advance of a scheduled appointment.
For more information about receiving transportation from the VTC, call 315-634-6611 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information is available on-line at www.volunteertransportationcenter.org.
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. Data for 2020 is still being compiled.
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 in Watertown at 315-788-0422, in Canton at 315-714-2034, or Fulton at 315-714-9134. To learn more, visit www.volunteertransportationcenter.org.