Rockville, MD (January 23, 2018) — The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) has approved the award of $681,159 in federal transportation funding for JCA® – the Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington — to support two JCA projects. The TPB selected just 17 local projects to receive a total of $6 million in funding under the Federal Transit Administration’s Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program, removing barriers to transportation service and expanding transportation mobility options for these communities. An additional $1.8 million in matching funds is provided by the grantees, bringing the total funding for the projects to $7.9 million.
JCA will utilize the COG award of $515,540 to establish a Network for Volunteer Driving of Greater Washington. The Network will build upon JCA’s long-standing success in designing and running the Connect-A-Ride Transportation Resource Center, the VillageRides program and other local mobility management programs, several of which were also supported by COG to enhance transportation for seniors and adults with disabilities.
The Network will improve and expand volunteer driver programs across Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, Md. and throughout Northern Virginia. It will help to close gaps and better meet the needs of non-driving seniors and adults with disabilities by enabling the organizations that join to
- Access a computerized ride-scheduling system purchased at high volume and low cost,
- Get practical help in developing new volunteer driver programs,
- Learn best practices in driver training and recruitment,
- Get help in marketing their services,
- Receive reimbursement for volunteer drivers’ background checks and
- Receive technical assistance that includes a helpdesk for software, general troubleshooting and administrative training.
By enabling escorted transportation services — door-through-door assistance — and other aids, the Network could be of special, extraordinary help to cognitively and physically impaired adults who could not navigate public transit and who live in areas with few affordable and accessible transportation options.
The Network will train at least 435 new volunteer drivers and serve at least 1,040 seniors and disabled adults. All told, the Jewish Council for the Aging estimates that new and continuing volunteer drivers will deliver 33,440 rides during the course of the grant while serving 40 local charities that provide volunteer driving programs.
“The new Network will do things that are close to my heart and close to the Jewish Council for the Aging’s heart,” said David Gamse, the organization’s chief executive officer. “It will support volunteerism. It will build upon JCA’s expertise in transportation services and in working with neighborhood villages and other grassroots organizations. It will utilize technology to help community groups work smarter. It will help older adults and disabled adults of all faiths and from all walks of life get where they need and want to go. And it will demonstrate to everyone that older adults and disabled adults matter; that they could and should be a vibrant part of the communities they cherish.”
Montgomery County Department of Transportation will support the program.
A separate COG award of $165,619 will enable JCA to procure two replacement buses. JCA will use them to serve vulnerable seniors who have cognitive disabilities, physical disabilities or both and who have no other safe, reliable and affordable means of transport to the JCA Misler Adult Day Center and the JCA Kensington Club in Rockville, Md. Both centers provide a safe, friendly, creative environment where older adults enjoy recreation, socialization and a group meal while receiving personalized, compassionate care.
“ElderBus service and an information and referral program called ‘the Senior HelpLine’ were the very first two programs that JCA created at its founding in 1973,” said Gamse, “and they are just as important now as they were nearly 45 years ago. We sincerely thank our donors and community partners for supporting us and supporting seniors’ independence year after year after year.”
The Transportation Planning Board at COG is the regional transportation planning organization for the Washington region. It includes local governments, state transportation agencies, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and members of the Maryland and Virginia General Assemblies.
The Metropolitan Council of Governments (COG) is an independent, nonprofit association where area leaders address regional issues affecting the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia.
For more than 44 years, the Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington has run award-winning programs that help local seniors thrive and build bridges across the generations. JCA today has 93 staff, 900 volunteers and is a community partner of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, the United Way and the Combined Federal Campaign.