Family Service of the Upper Ohio Valley makes 800 trips a month to get seniors where they need to go, and the agency needs help buying a second van.
Paula Calvert, CEO of Family Service, told Ohio County Commissioners this week that her agency has applied to the county for American Recovery Plan Act funds to purchase a second pickup truck. This van, equipped with equipment to assist people in wheelchairs and scooters, should cost at least $50,000, she said.
Family Service will also be sponsoring a vendor fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday to educate the public about the services it offers.
The agency serves the population age 60 and older in Marshall and Ohio counties.
“It doesn’t matter the income,” Calvert told the commissioners. “It’s important for dignity.”
Family Service serves more than 300 meals a day through its Meals on Wheels program and also offers advance meals.
“But the biggest problem we have in the Ohio Valley is how do you get to your doctor’s appointments or visit your loved one who may be at the Good Shepherd or Peterson (homes pension),” Calvert asked. “Instead of competing with OVRTA, we are filling the gaps and filling the needs.”
Riders give money if they have it, but there is no cost for the service.
While Family Service makes more than 800 trips a month to transport elderly people, another 200 trips are denied each month because the van is unavailable, she added.
“And that’s not acceptable,” Calvert said.
Like the agency’s current van, the second van would be handicap accessible, with a ramp to accommodate those in wheelchairs.
“If you have to stay in your scooter or your chair, there’s no physical impact on you,” Calvert said. “We put you in the van. We place you with dignity, then we take you to your appointment with the doctor. It is a door to door service.
And the vans wouldn’t just go to doctors’ offices, she continued. Often, they take the elderly passenger to the grocery store when he would otherwise not be able to get there.
Part of the package she presented to the stewards contained notes from grateful riders for the transportation opportunities. One said: “I haven’t eaten this much food in two years.
Calvert told commissioners there will be more demand for Meals on Wheels once housing projects are completed in South Wheeling.
“We are going to need more support for these elderly people,” she explained. “We are federally funded by the US Bureau of Human Services, but that doesn’t offset the investment rate.”
Meals provided by Family Service would likely cost $12 at Perkins or Bob Evans, Calvert continued. The state reimburses the agency $7 for each meal.
The deadline for interested Ohio County entities to apply for ARPA funding is October 31.
The vendor fair scheduled for next Wednesday will feature 10 vendors and will be free to the public, according to Calvert.
Representatives from WVU Medicine will be on hand to discuss the various services provided locally, as will employees from the Ohio County Health Department.
COVID reminders will be available, and it is expected that flu shots will also be provided on site, according to Calvert.
“We’re working on that,” she said. “The best thing is that there will be other community organizations out there talking about services that not only serve the elderly population, but others in Ohio County.
“It’s a way for the community to ask us questions before you need the services. Sometimes having those puzzle pieces missing when a crisis strikes is sometimes the best way to prevent a minor incident from becoming a major disaster.