Thursday, Feb. 14 2013 2:45PM
Enabling seniors to remain independent
By Phil Hanson
The Lee’s Summit Community is actively engaged in the Community for All Coalition for Eastern Jackson County which was created and organized by the Truman Heartland Community Foundation. Over the next 20 years as all of us boomers march toward our next phase in life, our community will experience a doubling of the population over age 65. The Coalition is focused on how we as an Eastern Jackson County community need to be working together to ensure our community continues to thrive as a Community for All Ages. We are making some great progress on two initiatives.
Under the leadership of Lee’ Summit resident Cindy Cavanah, and in partnership with the Mid-Continent Public Library, we will unveil later this year our Care Connection website. It’s designed to provide seniors in our community and their caregivers with free information on services like, home health, home modifications, adult day care, senior housing options and respite care. It’s designed like Angie’s List so consumers can provide feedback on the services they have received. We are grateful to Steve Potter and Susan Wray at Mid-Continent Public Library for their support in developing this valuable resource. We will keep you posted through this column when this free service is available.
Under the leadership of another Lee’s Summit resident, Barbara Koirtyohann, the Community for All Ages Coalition is helping the Independent Transportation Network of Greater Kansas City start up in our community. ITN’s purpose is to enable Senior Adults to remain independent when they no longer wish to or are unable to drive, which is challenging in our car-centric society.
Every day seniors face the reality that this is a great place to live – if you drive. When driving isn’t safe, how do you buy groceries, have lunch with a friend, go to the beauty shop or get to medical appointments? Moving from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat is much easier when you are driven by a volunteer who cares and provides more than a ride. With this program, seniors who are non-drivers can remain independent and more capable of living in their home and community they love.
ITN Greater Kansas City is an affiliate of ITN America which now has 27 affiliates in 22 states. It’s the first and only national non-profit transportation system for our aging population. It was started by Katherine Freund in 2003. Freund founded the organization after an 84-year-old driver caused an accident that injured her young son. Instead of simply blaming the driver, she realized that crashes caused by older people resulted from a transportation system that was not meeting the needs of an aging population and she was determined to change that system. The ITN Greater Kansas City program brings together seniors who need transportation with community volunteers who can provide.
Your Community Foundation this month created a partnership with ITN Greater Kansas City and we are currently serving as their Fiscal Sponsor until their 501(c)3 is approved by the IRS. We also made a $6,000 grant to ITN and are helping them find additional funding. We are connecting the Co-Executive Directors, Suzy Makalous and Kimberlee Johnson, with members of our coalition who can provide assistance in identifying both individuals who need rides and volunteer drivers.
Organizations like a senior center, a church, a civic group, could serve as a node by simply helping to identify 10 seniors who need service and six volunteer drivers. ITN handles all the rest including the volunteer training and matching of volunteers with members for rides. Volunteer drivers are reimbursed for their mileage and can volunteer just a few hours per week. If you have thoughts on someone we should contact in the Lee’s Summit community about establishing a node of operation please call 816-912-4181.
The next initiative of our Community For All Ages Coalition will be focused on the opportunity created by all these boomers over age 65 and the difference they can make in the community through volunteerism or new careers. We will share more about this in future columns.