Seniors who lack transportation become vulnerable and socially isolated. Getting to the grocery store or doctor appointments is a growing problem Maine has not effectively dealt with. Political leadership has failed to take statewide action.

My wife and I are in our mid-60s and part of a volunteer group in North Port, Fla., called Friends In Service Here. Volunteers drive seniors to doctor appointments, grocery stores, pharmacies and clinics. These services are offered to seniors who otherwise would not be able to get to these places on their own.

Safe, secure transportation — picking folks up at their own homes — is rewarding for both the client and volunteer. Appointments are scheduled by volunteer dispatchers who call drivers like us to pick up and deliver clients to appointments.

Along the way amazing things happen. Seniors meet seniors, have social interactions, and form relationships. The response from our community has been very positive. People love being picked up at their home and chauffeured. Often times it’s the only social interaction they have.

One key to success is local control. Friends in Service Here works in part because towns and cities have their own chapters, so there are fewer clients can be provided with more responsive service. In Maine’s quest to address the issue, the state may wish to look at one small success story.

Paul Connolly, Augusta

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