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by Audrey Partington
For more than a decade, Olney Home for Life has been transporting seniors to their appointments — free of charge — from their homes in Olney, Ashton, Brookeville, Sandy Spring or Brinklow.
Co-founded in 2011 by area seniors Mike Greenhut and Barbara Barry, the local nonprofit organization has struggled to make its services widely known to the community. The organization’s recent name change to Greater Olney Rides (GO Rides) aims to change that.
The name change was celebrated at a ribbon-cutting event on April 26 at Brooke Grove Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. The group’s dedicated volunteers were also celebrated at the event and treated to an ice cream social.
“When I told people about Olney Home for Life, they often asked, ‘where are you located?’ We’re not,” said GO Rides Board Chair Evelyn Harkins, who noted the misconception that the organization is a brick-and-mortar living facility.
“Our area’s senior population has tripled over the past decade,” said Harkins. “We have seen an explosion of senior living facilities in the Olney area.”
For its part, GO Rides offers transportation services, which are managed by a call center using software to match riders in the service area with drivers.
While technology makes the impersonal connection, relationships are quickly formed between riders and drivers, some of whom have been driving since the organization’s beginning.
“I have wonderful relationships with both of the gentlemen I routinely take to dialysis,” said volunteer driver Keith Gibb. “One is a great source of inspiration to me. He has suffered many losses in his life, including his vision. He is unfailingly grateful, cheerful and optimistic.”
The organization and its volunteers have been recognized for excellence numerous times over the years by state and county government officials.
On the occasion of its renaming, Maryland State delegates Pam Queen and Anne Kaiser presented a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the state’s Legislative District 14 delegation. Montgomery County Councilwoman Laurie-Anne Sayles (D-At large) also commended the organization’s efforts at the event. Certificates were also presented on behalf of County Council President Evan Glass (D-At large) and Councilwoman Dawn Luedtke (D-Dist. 7), as well as County Executive Marc Elrich.
“Your name may be new, but your mission of serving seniors in the community remains the same,” noted Elrich in his commendation statement. “It is truly a program of neighbors helping seniors. Anyone over 60 in the Greater Olney area can use your services – provided by volunteers from the Olney area – for free. You even serve those outside your service area who need transportation to Medstar Montgomery Medical Center. All of Montgomery County thanks you for your service to seniors.”
For more on GO Rides, go to www.gorides.org. To become a volunteer or request transportation, call 301-446-2512.
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