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“The age wave is here! and growing!” said members of People Acting in Community Together (PACT) last Wednesday, April 2 at a press conference and motorcade at Santa Clara County government center. PACT along with other community leaders hosted a press conference to generate support from the County’s Board of Supervisors to vote on allocating 2.8 million dollars in Measure A funds toward senior transportation services.
“Without transportation we are dooming them to a life of isolation, poor in meaning and comfort, with a way to get around our lives and our communities will be enriched,” said Rabbi Melanie Aaron of the Congregation Shir Hadash at the press conference.
Outreach, a non-profit, provides transportation to low income seniors in the county to doctor’s appointments, nutritional centers and more. Outreach’s proposal is just one of over 90 proposals seeking Measure A funding. As of February 2014, Outreach provided transportation to 909 seniors with 508 seniors on the program’s waiting list. If allocated funds, Outreach could expand it’s services to an estimated 3,600 more seniors. 1 in 4 seniors in Santa Clara County lives near the poverty level.
Following the press conference PACT held a senior motorcade from the government center ending at the county’s Sheriff’s auditorium “to symbolize the many hundreds make that thousands of seniors in our county who have been neglected and struggled to get a ride for a simple meal or doctor’s appointment,” said PACT member Marci Gerston.
In 2010, 15.7 percent, 1 in 6 in the county were age 60 or over. By 2013, that number is estimated to increase to over 25 percent, 1 in 4.
“It affects me,” said PACT member, 82 year old Marjorie Hart. Hart is active in the community, her religious congregation, and takes Tai-Chi classes. “Senior transportation is important because I do know that there times when that’s not going to be possible anymore. It’s going to be much more difficult for me to get to all the activities that I want to do.”
While Hart does not have to rely on transportation services yet, others such as 92 year old San Jose resident Cresenciano Hernandez do. “When I was 80 years old, they gave me a ticket. They said because of my age I’m not able to drive.” Hernandez said his Outreach transportation pass serves him well for all his clinic appointments.
“I’m very appreciative that Outreach exists.” said Hernandez’s daughter Teresa Hernandez. T. Hernandez works as a social worker with many elderly clients. “There are other seniors who don’t have family so they are at risk to not getting to their appointments. It puts their health in jeopardy.”
On Friday April 4th, the Board of Supervisors will meet to discuss proposals for the allocation of Measure A funds.