RSVP To The Doctors

Several years ago, when the local chapter of the Red Cross decamped for Norwalk, a popular program — driving Westporters to medical appointments — vanished with it.

But members of RSVP — the Retired & Seniors Volunteer Program — knew it was needed.

So did Westport’s Department of Human Services. The 2 organizations partnered, added Weston’s Social Services Department — and now all Westport seniors, and anyone with a disability, has access to free and friendly transportation to see their doctors in Westport, and all bordering towns.

Users register by phone. Volunteer dispatchers — working from home — match requests with drivers.

Drivers use their own cars, and pay for their own gas. They stay throughout the appointment (though if it will be a while, they can run errands or go home, and return at the end).

Most of the 50 or so drivers are RSVP members (the organization covers drivers under an umbrella policy).

There are 270 registered users, says Human Services senior program coordinator Sue Lebrija. Some use it once or twice — if, say, a broken leg curtails driving. Others use it frequently — even for regular dialysis appointments.

There are other driving services in the area — ITN, Norwalk Transit, even private drivers — and Human Services gives out that information too, to make sure every need can be met.

“Our volunteers are fabulous,” Sue says proudly. “They’re very community-conscious. Some also drive for ITN, and deliver meals.”

Clients say the service gives them “a new lease on life,” Sue adds. “In this day and age, adult children can’t drive their parents to the doctor all the time. This is something that’s really needed, and really works well.”

RSVP’s program operates weekdays — except Thursday. Why not then?

That’s the day the Y’s Men meet. Most RSVP drivers also belong to that senior group. They are indeed an active — and community-minded — bunch.

4 responses to “RSVP To The Doctors

  1. Sven Davidson

    Doesn’t Westport Transit offer door-to-door service within Westport and also out of town under ADA for disabled and elderly?

  2. My family is extremely grateful for the services RSVP provides to my mother. They are a blessing to our family. She feels safe and comfortable with the drivers and the fact that they stay while she goes to her appointment takes much of the worry out of the process. Thank you, thank you RSVP. Your are a vital link for seniors in Westport!

  3. What a wonderful service!

  4. Dan – really enjoyed your article. We have a rapidly growing ITN (transportation for seniors and visually impaired adults) in my new hometown, Lexington, KY, and I sent the story to the director of the downtown YMCA. They have a chapter of Y’s Men and also other programs like Silver Sneakers — both would be great resources for finding more volunteer drivers (and patrons for that matter).

    Keep up the good work! I love staying in touch with Westport via your posts. I don’t think I will ever got over leaving Westport, which I considered as my hometown, the same week I graduated from Staples …