ITN Dignified Transportation For Seniors

Remember the day you got your license to drive? Your first car and the freedom that came with it?  Now consider a day in the future when you license is restricted or revoked and you can no longer drive. The freedom to go where you choose, when you choose is gone. Losing your license or choosing not to drive is a loss of freedom. It is confusing and isolating.

This very difficult transition happens to members of our senior community every day. ITN Sarasota was established to restore freedom and dignity to Sarasota’s seniors and to the visually impaired.

ITN Sarasota is a membership based organization and we have been providing rides in Sarasota County for over two years. We currently have 160 members, many of them driving with us weekly, some on a daily basis. We exist to try to restore freedom and make life better for seniors who don’t drive. Our service transports seniors over 60 and visually impaired adults 24/7 anywhere they want to go.

Last year, from July to June, we made 4,000 one way trips in Sarasota County. 1,000 were for medical appointments. Our members pay a $50 individual membership fee and then a $3.00 fee for each ride and $2.00 per mile.

Is it fair to assume that you will drive somewhere today? In your car alone or with a friend? Perhaps you will run errands after that, or stop to see a friend or relative?

Now imagine what it would be like to have to rely on other people indefinitely. And for necessitie like groceries or medication. ITN Sarasota can fill these needs as well as drive member riders to lunch, to dinner, and to the theater.

We rely on volunteers; in fact this model would not work without them. The inherent costs of driving, such as insurance and maintaining our small fleet of 4 cars is difficult for us to afford. We exist on grants from the Community Foundation of Sarasota, Publix, SunTrust, and support from the Gulf Coast Community Foun-dation and Bank of America. We have a dispatcher that coordinates the rides from our office.  Members call in to schedule the ride and she coordinates with volunteers and paid drivers based on their availability. We get calls every day for membership. We have 30 active volunteers and we always need more!

Our members live in penthouses on the Keys…and we have a scholarship program for the low income. The loss of mobility affects seniors of every income.

One rider has dialysis three times a week and has to be there at 6:00 am. We pick him up on LBK at 5:45 am. There was no other service that could provide what ITN Sarasota provides.

If you are interested in volunteering to drive or more information concerning our service, please contact Caroline Chambliss at 364-7529.