GEORGETOWN, Texas — A non-profit organization in Georgetown is expanding its service: offering group van trips to the grocery store in hopes of helping more senior citizens keep their independence.
"It's an exciting addition to our program,” said Faith in Action Executive Director Vickie Orcutt.
Orcutt said their volunteers typically take individual clients where they need to go, like a doctor’s appointment.
But as the area has grown, so has the need for their service.
"When we reached close to 10,000 rides (in 2017), we knew we needed to be looking at some other strategies to meet the growth and demand,” said Orcutt.
With multiple clients requesting rides to H-E-B or Walmart, the non-profit realized it could combine those trips and launched its new expanded service.
"I don't drive, so this became another blessing from Faith In Action,” said first-time rider John Kirtland.
"Good convenient way to go shopping,” Harriett Kern added.
According to Orcutt, a grant from St. David’s Foundation helped the non-profit get a brand new bus for the service.
Van driver volunteer Mike Randall takes a different trip each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
"We have a number of them that would rather ride with me than their children because they can sneak in a Little Debbie or something like that,” said Randall.
In turn, more drivers are available to help clients stay self-sufficient.
"The drivers or the volunteers who would be taking people to the grocery store now can do those medical one-on-one rides,” said Orcutt.
"I'd love to see the bus packed with people because I’m sure there are more of us out there that could use this to stay independent,” said Kern.
"Well you don't have to bug a neighbor, or a friend, or beg a ride. I hate to impose on other people,” said Kirtland.
Kern has used the free service a few times.
"There's no way I'm going to be doing any driving. So, I find it wonderful to be able to get on a bus, be independent, go pick my own groceries, get back on a bus and go right to my door,” said Kern.
With more than 50 percent of their clients living alone, Orcutt said this bus ride is also a place to share and socialize.
"The purpose that's coming out of it, the meaning that's coming out of it, in each person's life and how they're connecting with other people it's not just them,” said Orcutt. “This is a great opportunity for them to socialize and that's what we're really hoping is that we can provide the rides, but moreso provide them that connection to new friendship."
"It gives them an opportunity to get away from the four walls in their apartment or their home,” said Randall.
"You meet more people and you get to see different areas of the city which is nice,” said Jane Finch.
"It's a great trip. You get to the store early, you get back early, and you meet a group of nice people,” said Dorie Fabry.
"(For) Some of them, it's a real need. And then some of them, it’s to socialize. It's their opportunity to get out and visit with other people,” said Randall.
Orcutt hopes they are able to expand the service to more locations in the future.
Faith in Action is also working to bring awareness to the needs of senior adults.
The organization will host their first Tailgate Trot 5K and Fun Run on Oct. 20 at the Oaks at San Gabriel, which is located at 5310 Highway 29 in Georgetown.
Tickets for adults are $25 and tickets for kids ages 12 and under are $10.