STC RECEIVES FEDERAL AWARD TO EXPAND TRANSPORTATION SERVICES

CLEVELAND – July 20, 2017 – An evening and weekend transportation service for seniors and disabled riders goes countywide, with the help of a federal grant. STC PLUS originally launched in North Olmsted, as a new option for evening and weekend travel for seniors and adults with disabilities. STC PLUS allows passengers from anywhere in Cuyahoga County to book their own travel in a fully accessible vehicle, for social, recreation and worship purposes.

Since April, North Olmsted residents have used STC PLUS to attend church services, shop at a local farmers’ market and visit family members who live across town. “By starting with a limited audience, we were able to test our processes, ensure adequate staffing and research future pricing,” STC Executive Director Janice Dzigiel explained. “We started getting calls almost immediately, asking when we were going to expand beyond the first community. We are so pleased that the grant will allow us to extend this service throughout the county so quickly.”

STC PLUS leverages STC’s reputation, resources and infrastructure that have offered reliable, trusted transportation on weekdays since 2005. STC’s accessible vehicles accommodate passengers’ mobility needs, and drivers are trained in service and assistance skills that deliver a safe, quality experience. “The ‘plus’ means independence and autonomy, especially to adults of all ages who will benefit from affordable, accessible transportation,” Dzigiel stated. “Consumers will enjoy flexible access to social, worship or recreation destinations, more personal autonomy, provided by an organization they know and trust, with no surprises.”

Senior Transportation Connection (STC) is one of six programs in the U.S. selected by The National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) to develop practical, sustainable innovations in accessible transportation. The competitive award of $50,000 will support an evening and weekend transportation service for seniors aged 60 and older and adults with disabilities.

The pilot covers startup costs to begin a service where passengers choose their destinations with fewer limits than the daytime program. STC Plus offers a predictable, up-front estimate based upon the number of riders and per mile rates. “We look forward to driving everyone’s social life!” Dzigiel said. The grant also covers a limited number of complimentary trips for first-time users.

About 23 percent of Cuyahoga County residents are over age 60, and more than 15,300 working age residents live with a disabling condition, according to the 2015 U.S. Census estimates. The STC Plus partnership offers evening and weekend services to destinations that increase social and recreational opportunities. Project partners are North Olmsted Senior Center, Services for Independent Living and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), collaborating to create and promote an effective program that meets consumer demand.

Senior Transportation Connection  Since 2005, STC has provided comprehensive, coordinated, efficient and affordable transportation to seniors and adults with disabilities throughout Cuyahoga County. Cuyahoga County residents who have mobility challenges due to age, lack of access, disability, frailty or inability to drive use STC in partnership with municipalities and social service agencies. Destinations include medical appointments, including dialysis and treatment; senior centers for meals and social activities; grocery shopping and personal errands.

The National Aging and Disability Transportation Center is funded through a cooperative agreement of Easter Seals, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, and the U.S, Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, with guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living. NADTC’s mission is to increase accessible transportation options for older adults, people with disabilities and caregivers nationwide.

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) (www.n4a.org) is a 501c(3) membership association representing America’s national network of 622 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and providing a voice in the nation’s capital for the 256 Title VI Native American aging programs. The mission of n4a is to build the capacity of its members so they can better help older adults and people with disabilities live with dignity and choices in their homes and communities for as long as possible.

For nearly 100 years Easterseals (www.easterseals.com) has been the indispensable resource for people and families challenged by disabilities. We offer hands-on, vital programs through our network of affiliates to help people of all ages reach their full potential through development and life skills learning, workforce training and placement services, and fun, healthy recreation programs for children, adults, and caregivers.

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North Olmsted residents give STC Plus a spin

STC Plus, The new evening and weekend Senior Transportation Connection service, booked its first passengers in April. STC Plus, the new evening and weekend Senior Transportation Connection service, booked its first passengers in April. It offers seniors who live in Cuyahoga County new, accessible transportation possibilities at different times and to different places. Executive Director Janice Dzigiel explained that "Our goal is to help people connect to social, recreational and worship opportunities. We encourage people to consider group outings to a movie and dinner, or perhaps a play or shopping.  We look forward to exploring new activities and locations with our passengers."

Our first passengers

Our very first STC Plus passenger had a practical reason for calling. Joanne Holchin was reluctant to reschedule a late afternoon physician appointment. She knew it would not be finished in time, so she arranged for STC Plus to bring her home. "I am looking forward to all the places where I now can go," Joanne said. STC Plus took Linda Bokan and her son Michael to St. Richard's Church on Easter morning. Linda is a long-time rider who enjoyed attending this special day with her son. They've already booked their next outing. Thanks to a federal grant from the National Aging & Disability Transportation Center, STC Plus offers one free trip to encourage seniors and adults with disabilities to try the new service. Individuals can contact STC directly to arrange for a vehicle that meets their mobility needs, operated by a trained driver. Call today to find out how STC Plus can drive your social life.