By Cathy Kozlowicz

Correspondent

Town of LaGrange resident Lynn Greene did not even bother making plans for Christmas. Not even to go to a family function.

She has an electric wheelchair and can only get in a vehicle that has a motorized ramp due to having multiple sclerosis.

“That is the only way to go somewhere so I use VIP Services as they do have that,” Greene said.

“I had no options,” she said. “Because I am already dealing with a handicap, it is also social handicap because we can’t go anywhere.”

Because of these transportation challenges, community member Robert Peryea approached Walworth County’s transportation coordinating committee Jan. 7 and proposed having volunteer drivers use VIP Services’ vans on Sundays and holidays.

After a brief discussion about some of the liability and the logistics involved, the committee said they will put the issue on the agenda for further conversation at their next meeting.

“I would love to help. This would allow people to go to church and family gatherings. Families cannot always afford to buy the vans (that have the lifts),” Peryea told committee members.

He said that he, and his wife, Brenda, could be volunteer drivers and as such would assist people in the community when the VIP Services are closed. He also said his wife can help with grant writing, if needed, as she is specialized in this.

County Administrator Dave Bretl said there may be insurance liability issues of using volunteers but appreciated the issue being brought up.

“We should look into this,” he said. “We would hate to turn anyone away.”

Peryea also said there are residents who may wish to attend Sunday church but could not due to transportation issues.

“Church is a good example. Personally, I do not need to, but many people would like to,” Greene said. “I would like to go somewhere on Sundays. Our lives should not end because we are restricted.”

Greene also said that VIP Services does not operate the vans late into the evening.

“Let’s say, I wanted to see a show. It could end at 9 or 10 p.m., and I would have no ride,” she said. “And most people have holiday events.”

She also said it is challenging to attend social events, especially those that are not always planned too far ahead of time.

According to the VIP Services’ website, they help people get to non-emergency medical appointments outside of Walworth County, transportation for dialysis appointments and trips to senior dining centers on scheduled days. The hours of operation for its transportation serves are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays. VIP Services are designed to help people 60 and older, adults with disabilities and veterans.

Greene said the need is there and there are other things she would like to do besides medical appointments such as seeing shows and attending events at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

“I am better off than other people. I have people who visit me. If people are isolated or older and sick, they turn to family and church,” she said.

She said she has lived in her home in the country since 1985 and would like to continue to live there.

“I see this as a need especially for people who want to stay in the community. I pay taxes. I don’t now what the funding requires, but this is a huge need,” she said.

The next meeting of the transportation coordinating meeting is set for Monday, Feb. 4, 1:30 p.m., in room 114 at the Walworth County Government Center, 100 W. Walworth St., Elkhorn.

 

 
 

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