Catch-a-Ride provides essential rides

A woman with a walker stands next to a female Catch-a-Ride volunteer

By Brandy Hodge

Johnson County Aging & Human Services Department operates the Catch-a-Ride program; a social service program providing volunteer transportation to essential destinations.

CaR is focused on meeting the transportation needs of older adults, people with disabilities and people in life transitions who have no other means of transportation. The program provides transportation to essential destinations such as medical appointments, food pantries and social service agencies (such as housing authority or Social Security office).

Rides are available to Johnson County residents to Johnson County destinations with three exceptions: St. Luke’s on the Plaza, University of Missouri – Kansas City Dental School and St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

Riders can request up to one ride a week with the exception of dialysis transportation. CaR is a donationbased program with a recommended donation of $5 per one way trip. Services are not denied due to the inability to pay.

Transportation helps individuals remain independent and self-sufficient. For riders like Joan Wissbaum, CaR provides rides to essential dialysis appointments.

“When I first started dialysis, I drove myself but as my cancer treatment changed, my legs got weaker, and I needed a driver,” Wissbaum said. “My daughter and social worker recommended Catch-a-Ride. I was impressed how fast they were able to get me on their schedule and I like that I have mostly the same drivers.”

According to Jennifer Sego, a renal social worker, the CaR transit service has been invaluable to the dialysis patients in Johnson County.

“Often times, dialysis patients are quite surprised to learn that transportation to and from dialysis is not a covered benefit by Medicare. There are very limited reliable transportation options in the area, let alone affordable options,” Sego said. “I have several patients who say they don’t know how they would make it to dialysis without Catch-a-Ride, meaning Catch-a-Ride is literally a life saver.”

CaR is a unique program that utilizes volunteer drivers who not only pick up the resident at their door but also wait for residents during their appointments.

Lisa Vaughn has been a CaR volunteer since August 2018. She currently drives for Catch-a-Ride and Home Delivered Meals for homebound seniors as well as volunteers at congregate dining sites in the department’s nutrition program. Vaughn provided 100 volunteer hours last year.

“I started with CaR as a way to give back. I feel I have had quite a bit of good fortune in my life and wanted to pay it forward. However, the reality is the riders are the ones giving back to me,” Vaughn said.

“Most of the individuals I have driven are kind, gracious, appreciative and have lived lives that are so interesting to hear about. Driving for CaR has truly enriched my life.”

As the transportation demand continues to increase in Johnson County so does the need for additional volunteer drivers.

“There have been several times when the CaR schedule has been full, despite their best efforts to accommodate everyone in need. We need more volunteers, especially for dialysis patients since they require this life saving treatment so frequently,” Sego said.

“I promise that my clientele will shower all the volunteers with gratitude and appreciation. We need you because this service is truly invaluable!”

CaR volunteers must be at least 25 years old, attend a formal orientation and complete criminal background and motor vehicle checks. They drive their personal vehicles, set their own schedule and determine the geographical distance they are willing to drive. Mileage reimbursement is available.

For more information about CaR or becoming a volunteer, please call 913-715-8900 or catcharide@jocogov.org.