Senior Access changes lives through free transportation, service and friendship

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It is no secret that the inability to drive hinders one’s quality of life. Without the freedom to pick up prescriptions and groceries, visit doctors and friends, and run everyday errands, many senior adults in every community depend on the help of others to survive and thrive.

For senior adults in East Austin, Northeast Austin, Manor, Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto, Senior Access is the key to independence. The gift of free transportation the organization provides through its volunteer services enables these citizens to live life to its fullest.

“The biggest goal for Senior Access is to give the seniors access to anything they need to get to,” Senior Access Executive Director Serita Lacasse said. “I mean, it can be going to a beauty shop and getting your hair done. When you’re a woman, just because you get old and stop driving, you still want to get your hair done. But it is also giving them access to other people in the community.”

In addition to free rides to the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, beauty shops and virtually anywhere else a client wishes to go, its Senior Buddy program operates on the mission of eradicating a huge issue within the senior population: isolation and loneliness.

Senior Access volunteer Sean Newell got involved with Senior Access to fill his desire of being more involved in his community, and as a part of the Senior Buddy program, he socializes with the same senior twice a week. Together, they stretch, go on walks, do reflex exercises and talk about life.

“It’s going very well, and I really enjoy spending time with him and just being there for him,” Newell said. “ ... I think for me, personally, it’s real easy to live in our own little world, our own little bubbles sometimes ... and boy, it really opened my eyes.”

Senior Access uses its volunteers for many other services provided to its clients, such as minor handyman services, yard work, IT assistance and operating Ollie’s Closet, a medical loan inventory of wheelchairs, bedside commodes and walkers that the entire community has access to.

“Basically, we’re taking people’s equipment that they don’t need anymore, cleaning it up, and then giving it out again,” Lacasse said. “So, it’s kind of like a revolving door.”

Lacasse and Newell said though the program is meant to enhance the lives of senior citizens, it ends up changing the lives of the volunteers as well. In addition to giving back to the community, volunteers often find themselves learning something new and forming relationships, which affect them greatly.

“I think it’s the best kept secret in the world that people don’t know what great things you can get from a senior because they’ve been through it,” Lacasse said. “ ... I’ve seen the stories, the success that has happened with the relationships between people like Sean and his buddy.”

One thing that attracts volunteers to Senior Access is the simplicity of the process to get involved. Volunteers use their mobile devices to sign up for volunteer opportunities at their convenience to fit their schedule, and there is no minimum commitment.

If you are interested in making a difference in your community by providing free transportation, becoming a part of the Senior Buddy program or assisting with any of Senior Access’ volunteer services, visit www.senioraccesstx.org.

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