Web Extra: Local ITN affiliate receives grant for Nevada senior, disabled transport service

Posted on July 21, 2010

[IMAGE]ITNAmerica-photo-full.jpg[/IMAGE]The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) awarded $101,000 New Freedom Grant to ITNLasVegasValley, a branch of the national not for profit Independent Transportation Network (ITN). The funds will help provide ride services to seniors and visually impaired adults living in Henderson and other parts of the Southeast Las Vegas Valley.

"In our area, we have a very high senior population that is aging out and shouldn't be driving, but what is the alternative?" said Nancy Sprague, who serves as ITNLasVegasValley's co-director along with Fran Smith. "People need dignified transportation so they can be independent and become involved in the community instead of being stuck in the house."

ITN provides rides 24/7 with door-to-door, arm-through-arm service to thousands of seniors nationwide. The unique service enables older people to trade their own cars to pay for rides and volunteer drivers to store transportation credits for their own future transportation needs.

It also has a "Road Scholarship Program," which converts volunteer credits into a fund for low-income riders, as well as a gift certificate program that helps adult children support their parents' transportation needs from wherever they may live.

"Many of our seniors here in our area have family that live somewhere else but, if their children are in a place where there's an ITN affiliate, they can volunteer there and transfer their ride credits to their family here," Sprague explained.

To join, seniors 60 and over or blind adults of any age pay an individual membership fee of $50 — or $75 for a family membership — plus a roundtrip pickup fee of $4 and about $1.50 per mile; however, Sprague explained, that fee varies.

ITNLasVegasValley is currently in a "soft launch mode" but, thanks to the recent infusion of funds from the RTC, they will launch full service in September. For now, the group relies on volunteers and their personal vehicles to supply rides, but plans are in the works to purchase vehicles and pay drivers.

"RTC has been really helpful to us in many ways because this is a gap they want to be filled, so they are trying to do everything they can to make sure that we can flourish," Sprague said.

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