The following press release was issued by A.J. Lapointe:
A new passenger van has been added to the fleet of the Salem Council on Aging. The SCOA now has five vehicles, used exclusively to transport Salem senior and disabled citizens, all of which seat 10-12 passengers and include wheelchair lifts.
“The cost of gas, increasing numbers of senior citizens and recent fare increases by The Ride, have increased demand for our services,” said SCOA Transportation Coordinator John Sauvageau. “Having a new and dependable van will make it more reasonable for us to meet that demand.” The Ride is a paratransit service provided by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
The new 2012 Ford van is also significant due to the SCOA’s recent retirement of two late-1990s model vans that were considered beyond reasonable repair.
The new van, which cost about $55,000, was acquired through a federal grant secured through the office of Cong. John F. Tierney, as well as with funds provided by the private, non-profit “Friends of the Salem Council on Aging.” The grant covered 80 percent of the price tag and the remainder – more than $11,000 -- was handled by the Friends.
“We want to thank everyone who has supported the work of the Friends of the Salem Council on Aging,” said Andrew LaPointe, president of the group. “Their generosity of time and effort has been critical in making important projects like this so successful.”
When the grant was applied for, in 2010, the SCOA was providing approximately 15,000 rides for 400 senior or disabled citizens. About 40 percent are from people’s homes to the Senior Center to participate in programs, and about one-third are to medical facilities in Salem and surrounding communities. The rest are for shopping and special trips. Rides are provided free of charge, but donations are encouraged.
For more information on SCOA transportation or related programs, call 978-744-0924, ext. 11, or send e-mail to email@example.com.