United Way helps seniors get around town

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 19, 2006

By Adam Hammer, staff writer

Lois Jensen doesn&8217;t drive.

For the past five years, she has been getting rides from Beverly Flinn through the Ride Services program at Senior Resources of Freeborn County. That happens thanks to the United Way of Freeborn County.

&8220;I get more than just a ride around town,&8221; Jensen said during a ride with Flinn Friday to a hair appointment at Hair Designers in Albert Lea. &8220;I don&8217;t know if that&8217;s a good thing or a bad thing,&8221; she added with a laugh.

&8220;It&8217;s a good thing,&8221; Flinn replied.

Flinn said she enjoys being able to help people get around as a volunteer for Ride Services. She&8217;s been doing it since 1993.

&8220;I had to have something to do. I enjoy the people and they need to get somewhere,&8221; she said. &8220;I appreciate Ride Services because I&8217;m retired and it gives me something to do. I get to meet a lot of good people.&8221;

Ride Services provides transportation to clients age 60 or older who are not able to drive on their own.

&8220;It allows them to live independently and have affordable transportation,&8221; said Marilynn Borland, Ride Service and Chore Service coordinator for Senior Resources of Freeborn County.

Flinn drives for the program every weekday except for Tuesday, she said. She usually starts her ride schedule before 9 a.m. and drives until about 4 p.m.

She is not paid wages for her services but receives compensation for her mileage and services through funding from the United Way of Freeborn County and $5 rider contributions.

Contributions are not required from riders, but are encouraged to offset the cost of mileage and out-of-pocket expenses.

&8220;If they can afford it, they pay it. Otherwise they usually pay whatever they can contribute,&8221; Borland said.

Jensen said she is appreciative of the service and relies on the program since she had a stroke to get around

to hair appointments, the mall, Credit Union and other shopping stops around Albert Lea.

&8220;I&8217;ve always gone with Bev,&8221; she said. &8220;I don&8217;t know if that&8217;s a good thing or a bad thing.&8221;

&8220;It&8217;s a good thing,&8221; Flinn replied, with another laugh.

Ron Elsberry has also enjoyed getting rides from the Ride Services program and having concerned drivers assist him with getting to appointments at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and Albert Lea Medical Clinic.

&8220;The people are fantastic,&8221; he said. &8220;I couldn&8217;t ask for better people to talk with.&8221;

Elsberry lives in second floor apartment above Hair Designers. He requires an oxygen tank, which he cannot carry up and down the stairs, but his drivers go the extra mile to carry it for him.

&8220;When I get done with my appointments, I&8217;m so weak I can&8217;t get up the stairs,&8221; he said.

When he is not using Ride Services to get around, Elsberry benefits from taxi vouchers from Senior Resources and rides from Joe T. Taxi Service in Albert Lea.

&8220;I&8217;m glad to have them, they&8217;ve helped me out a lot,&8221; Elsberry said.