Age Well Senior Services will see six new hybrid vehicles joining its fleet, helping the nonprofit’s efforts to provide transportation to South Orange County’s seniors and mobility-challenged individuals.
Included in the state budget enacted on June 27 is $510,000 for Age Well to purchase six hybrid transportation vehicles, which will provide non-emergency transportation services.
The state funds will help Age Well in its mission to “support independence and dignity of South Orange County seniors,” said Steve Moyer, chief executive officer of Age Well Senior Services, Inc.
Along with delivering Meals on Wheels and serving lunches at its senior center locations, Age Well provides non-emergency transportation, including “taking seniors for dialysis, for cancer chemotherapy, any medical related appointments such as doctors appointments, also to pick up prescriptions, (and) dental appointments,” Moyer explained.
With the nonprofit retiring many of its aging vans, the funds to purchase new hybrid vehicles will help Age Well “build back our capacity.”
“The other thing that’s really important about this is that these will be our first vans that are really environmentally sensitive, which we’re very excited about,” Moyer said. “At this point, we sit at 22 vehicles but by the end of this year, we will approaching 30 vehicles in total. So, we’re very excited about that.”
Moyer added that the fuel efficiency of hybrid vehicles will also help to reduce the nonprofit’s operating costs, as well as the decreased need for additional maintenance as they replace older vans.
Moyer added that each of Age Well’s vehicles serves roughly 1,200 medical trips annually, with the fleet currently accommodating more than 27,000 trips a year. Moyer anticipates with the fleet expansion, Age Well will be able to accommodate roughly 32,000 trips annually.
“The clients that we have that utilize our services are ones that do not have transportation to and from medical appointments and they are definitely in need,” Moyer said. “This is a door-to-door service we provide.”
“We pick them up at their home and transport them to their appointments and then once their appointment’s finished, we transport them back home,” Moyer continued. “I don’t know what these individuals would be able to do without this. This service is a safety net in their life, and we recognize that.”
South County’s senior population is growing, Moyer added.
“With that comes more and more demands, needs to be met. These vans really help us to be able to keep up with the demand,” he said, adding, “This is a service that we want to continue to be able to provide to enrich their life which is the overall mission of Age Well Senior Services.”
State Sen. Catherine Blakespear attributes her advocacy for investing in her district to many community projects receiving state funding this year.
In a media release, Blakespear highlighted projects within her district “that address housing and homelessness, transit and transportation, the environment and social services” as receiving funding from the state budget.
“These are critically important projects in my district,” Blakespear said in the media release. “I’m tremendously grateful that my advocacy for these projects was effective in getting the projects funded.”
Blakespear noted that with state revenues lower than last year, it was a tough budget year, “which motivated me to advocate even harder for state investment in important local initiatives. These projects would not be moving forward this year without this crucial funding.”
In addition to the funding granted to Age Well of Orange County for hybrid transportation vehicles, the City of Vista received $5 million for interim and permanent supportive housing, Encinitas received $3.09 million to complete the Santa Fe Drive Corridor improvement project and $1.4 million was allocated to complete a connecting segment of the Coast to Crest Trail.
Moyer added that “Sen. Blakespear, who made this happen, is really incredible, just a godsend for us to receive something of this magnitude.”
“Out of all of the critical programs that she was looking at, that this money could have been spent on, for her to select Age Well and what we do, this vehicle project, we’re honored and appreciative,” Moyer said.
Seniors and mobility-challenged individuals can apply for non-emergency transportation on Age Well’s website at agewellseniorservices.org.