ADRC provides county-wide bus service for the aging and disabledThe Aging and Disability Resource Center, or ADRC, of St. Croix County, offers an extensive transportation program that supplies a way for the aging and disabled people of the area to get out into the community, live more independently, and socialize with others.
By: By Jace Frederick, Hudson Star-Observer
The Aging and Disability Resource Center, or ADRC, of St. Croix County, offers an extensive transportation program that supplies a way for the aging and disabled people of the area to get out into the community, live more independently, and socialize with others.
The main service for transportation is the Site Transportation Program. The program is a paid service, thanks to a federal grant, which offers a very reasonable fare. The program is designed for people who are 60 and older, while the general public may ride on a “space-available” basis. There are mini-buses located on site at various locations around the community including Baldwin, Deer Park, Glenwood City, Hammond, Hudson, New Richmond, Roberts and Somerset. There is also the ability to pick up people in River Falls. There are drivers for the program present in each of the areas so availability is not an issue.
“It’s not only serving Hudson, New Richmond, or River Falls, it’s serving the whole community,” said ADRC Administrator Brad Beckman.
The program also has four handicap-accessible vehicles located in the cities of Baldwin, Glenwood City, Hudson and New Richmond. These vehicles are strategically located so they can reach people with the need in neighboring towns as well without any issue.
“If you have an accessibility issue, we can still get you. That has never been a problem,” said Beckman.
Throughout the week, transportation vehicles take priority on providing trips to the senior center/nutrition sites, medical appointments and places of employment. However, there are scheduled shopping days as well as various other trips to fun activities such as going out to restaurants, visiting museums, and viewing plays throughout the month. The weekly shopping days for the Hudson area take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“People need to get around. I think what is unique here is they pick people up to come to the site. Not only to eat the meal, which is important, but for the socialization and the interaction,” said Beckman.
For the shopping days, the vehicles transport people to stores in their own regions, keeping the business in town. The program also chooses nearby restaurants when they go out to eat and services the mini-buses at local repair centers. There is a strong emphasis on supporting the local businesses of the area.
“It’s an economic plus to have these vehicles here, all the way around. It gets people to shop and spend their money, to come to eat and socialize, and to support the local businesses,” said Community Services Coordinator Tracy Davis.
Other programs are available to compliment the Site Transportation program to further the extensiveness of the availability of transportation for members of the community. The Volunteer Medical Transportation program is specifically designed to offer door-to-door transportation to medical appointments, for people who are age 60 and older or have physical disabilities. Individuals are given rides by volunteer drivers in their personal vehicles to their medical facility, whether it is within or outside of St. Croix County. Many trips in this program are to places outside the area, such as Eau Claire and Rochester, Minn., for treatments. The individuals using the program are asked to donate what they can afford to go toward the cost of reimbursing the volunteers for the fuel costs. The ADRC also collaborates with multiple other programs and services such as the Interfaith Volunteer Program to help fill in some gaps when needed to get people where they need to go.
“We work with other organizations to make sure we can meet the needs of this population,” said Davis.
The ADRC has added a weekend program as well. It is a subsidized program that allows people with a physical disability to travel to “pretty much anywhere” from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays for a small fee. The program runs through a collaboration of other services in cooperation with the ADRC. Currently, it is only available in the Hudson area, but the hope is to soon expand it to the rest of the county.
The center does stress that rides need to be requested 24-48 hours in advance in order to properly plan out trips and find staff.
As the county continuously grows in population, the need for transportation programs such as these only grows, especially with the lack of public transportation available in the area. The Site Transportation Program gave over 25,000 one-way trips in 2011, a 3,000 ride increase from 2010. Those rides are given to over 300 users county-wide.
A lot of credit goes to the volunteers that put in the manpower to make these programs go. The ADRC has approximately 400 volunteers that put in countless hours helping with transportation, the nutrition program, nursing, office work, and throughout the interfaith program.
“We could not run these transportation programs and senior programs without these people,” said Beckman.
The ADRC is providing a one-stop shop for services that people pay for or donate toward. These services are serving all of St. Croix County by lessening burdens on families and allowing aging or disabled individuals to stay independent, social and active in their community.