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Volunteers still needed for senior trip service

Matthew Lane • Dec 31, 2019 at 3:30 PM

KINGSPORT — Volunteering to drive seniors where they need to go is one of the most rewarding things Rex Metcalf has ever done in his life. It’s keeping him busy during his retirement, he’s helping others who are struggling with health issues and he’s making some good friends along the way.

There’s really not a downside to the service Metcalf and others are providing to seniors living in the Model City.

The service is called MyRide TN Kingsport, and it’s a statewide program that offers door-through-door transportation for seniors ages 60 and up who either don’t drive or have driving limitations. It launched in May with just a handful of volunteers, and since then the drivers have provided nearly 1,000 trips for Kingsport seniors.

Metcalf provided the first ride for the service in May, giving retired pastor Lewis Weaver a ride to where he needed to go.

“I’ve really enjoyed it, I’ve met such wonderful people, and they appreciate it so much,” Metcalf said. “And it’s helped me make some really good friends. Lewis is a prime example. He’s not just a rider, he’s a really good friend of mine.”

Weaver has some health issues and has been unable to drive for about three years. Before MyRide came about, Weaver said it was tough getting to the doctor’s office at times, noting that his wife would sometimes have to use vacation time to get him where he needed to go.

“This has been an answer to our prayers, and Rex has been a tremendous asset to me,” Weaver said. “He’s a gentleman, opens the doors and carries my things and goes beyond what would be necessary.”

VOLUNTEERS STILL NEEDED

MyRide is offered Monday through Friday and round-trip rides cost only $5.

Lisa Christian, the coordinator of the program, said the service has been popular among the seniors in town, with common destinations being doctor’s offices, grocery stores and retail businesses. By comparison, similar programs were established in Johnson County and Jonesborough earlier than Kingsport’s, yet both cities just recently celebrated their 500th ride.

And now with the recent closure of the Shepherd Center in Kingsport, MyRide has taken on their riders as well, which means more people are going to need rides. That also means MyRide is still in need of volunteer drivers.

“We have a true need for volunteers,” Christian said. “We have 20 on the books and 13 who are actually working and providing rides, but we need probably 20 more to serve what we really need.”

It has been proven that without transportation, the overall health of a person declines, both physically and mentally. MyRide is different than other transportation programs, in that a volunteer goes through the door and assists the senior out to the car if needed and again helps them through the door of wherever it is they’re going.

If you’d like to volunteer for the program, all you have to be is 20 years of age or older, have a valid Tennessee Driver’s License, a clean driving record, proof of insurance, and a reliable vehicle, of course, in good working order, Christian said.

For more information about the program, to schedule a ride or to volunteer, you can call Christian at (423) 530-6340.

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