More volunteers needed to meet community demand
In just six years of operation, the WeCAB transportation service recently celebrated a significant “milestone” – logging 100,000 miles driven by its volunteers to transport residents to medical appointments and other services.
The nonprofit organization WeCAB (Western Communities Area Busing) was launched in 2011, initially serving the Westonka Service Area communities of Navarre, Spring Park, Mound, Minnetrista, St. Bonifacius and Maple Plain. The service has expanded to include a second chapter – Carver County Service Area (Carver, Chanhassen, Chaska and Victoria) – providing adults in these communities with transportation to Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia, Ridgeview Westonka Clinic in Spring Park, Ridgeview Chanhassen Clinic, Ridgeview Chaska Clinic and Two Twelve Medical Center in Chaska, and other destinations.
“Since initially funding the WeCAB pilot program in 2011, Ridgeview continues to provide financial support to WeCAB to help meet the growing needs of the communities and patients it serves. “Transportation is a barrier for many of our greater community members. We are proud to help support this important program, which helps so many of our patients get to their medical appointments and access the health care services they need,” said Robert Stevens, Ridgeview president and CEO. “We are grateful for the commitment and partnership of the volunteer WeCAB drivers who donate their time and vehicles to help their community neighbors.”
Volunteer drivers needed
Currently, there are 60 volunteer drivers to serve the nearly 250 riders in both the Westonka and Carver WeCAB service areas. Since 2011, more than 10,000 rider requests have been fulfilled with a total of 2,364 one-way rides provided in 2016.
“WeCAB really is ‘neighbors helping neighbors.’ Our volunteer drivers range from stay-at-home parents, to retirees, to full-time employees and more, as they drive during the daytime or weekend hours or whatever works for schedules. Many of our riders, and drivers, have been with us since the service started, and we are thrilled to support these special friendships and rewarding community relationships,” said Susan Hoversten, president, WeCAB Board of Directors. “We are also very grateful for Ridgeview’s financial support, which allows us to continue to make this important service available.”
WeCAB is not a replacement for existing transportation, but is designed to supplement public transportation. It operates on a system of a suggested donation per one-way trip, based on miles. All rides are provided by volunteer drivers who use their own vehicles, passed a background check, and completed orientation and training about the WeCAB transportation service.
“More than 75 percent of our rider requests are to medical appointments, and the average length of each one-way ride is about 10 miles,” Hoversten added. “Last year, our drivers logged more than 1,500 volunteer hours and there were 88 new riders added in 2016. As the demand grows, we need more volunteer drivers. WeCAB’s goal in 2017 includes attracting at least 25 additional drivers to the organization as well as attracting more riders who can benefit from using WeCAB.”
Need a ride? Dial 1-844-RideWeCAB
Residents who are registered with the WeCAB program can request a ride by calling 1-844-Ride-WeCAB (1-844-743-3932). The service has volunteer dispatchers who work an average of 12 hours per month taking requests for rides and answering calls between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on weekdays. Dispatchers then send an email to all drivers to find a “match” for the requested ride. Drivers can accept a ride based on the driver’s availability and the rider’s destination.
For more information about WeCAB – including how to use the service, to volunteer as a driver or dispatcher, or to sponsor the program or make a donation – visit www.wecab.org.