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Grant Will Expand Van’s Transportation Services

In this April 2012 officials are shown with Mendon's new Senior Van. Thanks to a New Freedom, the range of services offered with the van have expanded. Snow in the photo are L to R: Selectman Michael Goddard, Senior Center Director Amy Wilson Kent, Selectman Mike Ammendolia, Senator Richard Moore, and State Rep. John Fernandes. File photo

The Mendon Senior Center was recently awarded a grant in the sum of $5,600 that will go toward expanding the Center's van transportation program. "The funding will allow us to do transportation above and beyond our current hours," said Senior Center Director Amy Wilson Kent. "We're very excited about it."

The new grant funding will go toward fuel, maintenance, and the driver's salary.

In 2005, the Federal Transportation Authorization Bill required that metropolitan planning regions create a locally Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Plan for regions wishing to utilize New Freedom grant funding. The Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC), which Mendon is a part of, developed such a plan which identified gaps and duplication in transportation services.

Last year, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation awarded the Mendon Senior Center a grant that covered 80 percent of the funding to purchase a much needed new van for the Senior Center; the Friends of the Mendon Elders raised the remaining 20 percent. In March 2012, the new van was delivered which accommodates up to four wheel chairs or 13 passengers and made available to Mendon residents aged 60 and over as well as to those with disabilities. For a small fee, the new van takes passengers to their medical appointments, offers rides to the Senior Center and shopping trips. However, with the new grant funding, those trips will now be expanded.

According to Wilson Kent, some of those expanded trips will include new transportation on alternating Fridays to new shopping areas or other venues; special trips in tandem with senior day trips for individuals requiring the wheelchair lift, and new transportation service to agencies such as the Department of Transitional Assistance, which offers programs such as food assistance and emergency aid to the elderly and disabled. In addition, the van will be able to expand its hours for medical appointments and to help provide transportation to jobs. Currently, the van runs Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

As the number of seniors in Mendon continually increases, requests for van rides are also on the rise. As a result, the new grant funding could not have come at a better time.

Part of the New Freedom grant application required matching funds equal to the $5,600. As a result, the Friends of the Mendon Elders agreed to fund a portion of those funds. With those matching funds as well as the grant funding awarded, the Mendon van will be able to provide nearly 450 extra hours of van services.


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