LUMBERTON — Seniors, people with disabilities and those without transportation may soon have a new way to get around Robeson County.
Senior Care Connections Elite Transportation Services will hold a public meeting on Monday at 10 a.m. at the Robeson County Public Library to discuss a new program to serve the transportation needs of people who cannot get around on their own. Needs assessments, surveys and questionnaires will be distributed, and a forum will be held on transportation for second- and third-shift employment opportunities.
Diane Surgeon, CEO of Senior Care Connections, said the proposed Region N Transportation Call Center will spread the program’s services among Robeson, Richmond, Bladen, Hoke and Scotland counties, which make up the Region N Area Agency on Aging represented by the Lumber River Council of Governments.
“Right now our services are only in Robeson County,” Surgeon said. “We’re trying to coordinate, with help from the state of course, transportation to medical centers” like the ones at Duke University and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Senior Care Connections is a nonprofit that provides transportation services, including drives to medical appointments, shopping and other errands, to elderly and disabled people throughout the county. The program supplements services provided by South East Area Transit System, the local public general transportation service.
Surgeon said Senior Care Connections, which has operated since September 2011, provides people in need with an essential service.
“If they can get a job, they can’t get there, and that puts them at a real disadvantage,” she said. “Transportation is just key for survival, really.”
Surgeon said the cost of using the call center’s services will be about the same as the program’s other services.
Surgeon said Senior Care Connections is partnering with the state Department of Transportation to open the call center. She said she hopes the program can get a state grant but “there are other entities across the state competing for funding, too.”
“I’m certainly very, very hopeful,” she said.
Senior Care Connections offers day outings and other transportation services to local churches and senior residential and community groups, which provide opportunities for seniors and disabled individuals to socialize and relieve stress, depression and isolation.
The Robeson County Public Library is located at 101 N. Chestnut St. in Lumberton. For information about transportation, call Senior Care Connections at 910-272-0121.