Lack of donations may put breaks on Dial-A-Ride

Almost 500 people would need to find a new way to get around


A local service called Dial-A-Ride that gives elderly or disabled people who live at the beaches rides to their doctors or other errands is at risk of going under.

About 490 people use the service simply by scheduling a ride 24 hours in advance.

Betty Simmons depends on Dial-A-Ride.

"It's taken a lot of old people off of the road," Simmons says. "My doctor said I could drive, but I know the tricks my eyes were playing on me."

Lee Anderson, vice president of Dial-A-Ride, says most of their clients consider the service critical.

"They would remain home bound, the majority of them, if they did not have this," Anderson said.

When Dial-A-Ride started back in 1975, it was paid for with grant money. For the past two years, it has stayed afloat through donations, but those donations are running out.

The service need about $3,500 monthly to operate, and they currently only have enough money to survive another two to three months.

Those people while may soon be without a ride don't like that at all.

"If I did have to take the chair across the street, it be like committing suicide because the traffic is so bad," Charlotte Gagner says.

"It's just a sense of freedom. We don't have to count on our families for anything hardly," Simmons adds.

Another rider, Edith Morse, says she enjoys the time she spends with the other riders. "We have a picnic, we laugh, and we talk and everything, so it's great."

It's not just the people who use the service who would miss it, but also drivers like Billy Perkins.

"I love the job and I love dealing with the seniors and to me I give them their independence and freedom," says Perkins.

If you want to make a donation to Dial-A-Ride, call 904-246-147 or send a check to 281 19th Ave. S, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250.

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