For seniors with transportation-access issues, finding ways to make essential trips for things like groceries, medical appointments, and prescription refills can be daunting. If they live in Blount County, however, they have help.
Joani Shaver serves as Director of Blount County Office on Aging. Passionate about seniors, Joani has special concern for those who are still ambulatory, but don’t drive. She recognizes the burden transportation issues impose. Smiles: Neighbors Driving Neighbors is a welcome answer.
SMiles is not a form of public transportation. Instead, it is a membership program ($25 annual fee) where seniors are able to purchase a needed service for a reasonable price (a designated number of $6 round-trip rides, ordered in advance).
The program relies on Blount County’s volunteers to provide its service. People are recruited, screened, and trained before being accepted as SMiles drivers. They use their own vehicles to provide rides and can receive either gas reimbursement or IRS tax-deduction documentation, if preferred. A Transportation Manager supervises day-to-day operations of the program, which is housed at Blount County Community Action Agency’s Office on Aging.
Love and appreciation of the elderly is Joani Shaver’s mantra…and the standard for the volunteers. SMiles is also lots of fun. In fact the volunteers who began in 2013 are still volunteering. What a compliment to any program!
To find out about volunteer commitment and requirements, visit the SMiles website www.blountcaa.org/volunteer. Or call 865-983-8411 x 26 to set an appointment to talk further about volunteering. You can also download the volunteer application and mail, or fax the completed application to their office: Blount County Community Action Agency, 3509 Tuckaleechee Pike, Maryville, TN 37803. If you live outside Blount County, check with your local council or office on aging for similar programs.
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