County transportation program leaders and Orcas Island social service agencies concur with the Human Resources Transportation Plan which suggests the establishment of non-profit, daily, door-to-door ride service such as IslandRides. In February, this eight-year-old proven combination of trained volunteer drivers with non-polluting electric vehicles and regional grant support surpassed 30,000 trips in San Juan County. The Orcas Island community will greatly benefit from such service now being initiated, as it will fill gaps in existing services.
Last week a rider said, “My husband and I are seniors, one with a terminal illness. We are both in wheelchairs and IslandRides has helped us remain in the home we designed and built where we are surrounded by friends and family. The drivers are amazing and treat us like family. IslandRides has been wonderful. The drivers are personable and kind. I have come to depend on them for deliveries several times a week. I wish every community had an IslandRides.”
Local donations and grants continue to make the service available for FREE or any donated fare. Reliable on-call daily service is provided at affordable rates to seniors, people with disability and low-income rural residents who do not drive. This is possible only with generously donated vehicles, trained volunteer operators and support of the local riding and donating community.
A volunteer driver said that “Passengers really appreciate our service, so instead of a chore, driving is a delight. Repeat passengers start to feel like family. I consider IslandRides part of what good communities do. When a senior in subsidized housing reached into her wallet to pay for her ride, I reminded her that our service was donation only. ‘Oh no,’ she said, ‘I so appreciate this service. I want to pay!’ All the clients I have worked with are so grateful, especially those who truly need help. I end my shifts with a real sense that I have made a difference that day.”
IslandRides will fill gaps in transportation needs not met by other programs, such as Orcas Door-to-Door and Senior Services. To get more specific information about how you can be part of the project organizing now on Orcas Island, call Sara Pelfrey at 360-622-2929 or email IslandRidesOrcas@gmail.com or Board Chair, Curt VanHyning at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations are being made at www.IslandRides.org or https://OICF.us