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.
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.
“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.