Family launches fund for senior transportation

His experience is not unusual among seniors who are no longer able to drive, and he is one of many who may benefit from a new transportation fund for Jewish seniors that will be administered through Smile on Seniors.

Alan and Randi Jablin, along with the Friedel Family Foundation, started by Randi’s parents, Leonard and Phyllis Friedel, have established the Friedel Family Foundation Senior Transportation Fund, which offers rides to seniors through Envoy America, a company that provides ride services for seniors, picking them up at their door, assisting them to the car, if needed, and then accompanying them throughout the trip and back home again.

“Taking care of the vulnerable, particularly our seniors, is a very important Jewish value, and we have a soft spot for our elderly,” Alan Jablin told Jewish News.

This transportation fund will provide either individual or shared transportation for affiliated and unaffiliated Jewish seniors, age 65 and older, throughout the Greater Phoenix area. The initial funding covers 200 hours of rides, according to Jablin. “Our hope is that members of the community, and Jewish organizations, will see the value of this program and contribute, thereby eliminating the concern that demand will exceed supply.”

During the launch, each senior will be limited to four rides per month. “We are not limiting how the rides are used,” Jablin said. “The idea is that a senior should live as normal a life as possible.”

The cost of a ride will be $5, $10 or whatever the senior is comfortable paying and no tipping is allowed. Envoy America will handle the reservations and dispatch. The regular cost to use the service, offered throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area, is $39 per hour.

“We are thrilled to be able to participate with Smile on Seniors for this important community service,” said Andy Beran, an owner and founder of Envoy America.

Smile on Seniors, a nonprofit organization that offers a wide range of programming for seniors, is administering the fund and 100 percent of the transportation fund will be used to provide rides, said Rabbi Levi Levertov, who directs the nonprofit with his wife, Chani. The transportation fund will not benefit Smile on Seniors programming, and there are no administrative fees, he said.

“So often, seniors tell us they have no way of getting to our events,” Levertov said. “A Jewish senior who needs to go shopping, to the theater or anywhere else will now have the opportunity. They won’t have to make those worrisome choices of how they will spend their monthly budgeted income.

“Envoy America provides the peace of mind that you aren’t just in a taxi … You have a real person who cares about you helping you on your way.”

Levertov said that Smile on Seniors’ involvement is minimal and the project “has really been Randi and Alan’s vision and legwork … We are grateful and humbled that they have chosen us to partner/be involved in this milestone accomplishment for the greater Phoenix Jewish community.”

“Our sincere thanks to Rabbi Levi and Chani Levertov for their willing participation in this endeavor,” Jablin said.

A 2014 senior services study conducted by the Jewish Community Association of Greater Phoenix noted that transportation is one of the greatest needs for seniors; the other two were a referral service and identifying seniors’ socialization needs, particularly for the homebound.

Send donations for the Friedel Family Foundation Senior Transportation Fund to Smile on Seniors, 2110 E. Lincoln Drive, Phoenix 85016. To schedule a ride, contact Envoy America, 602-687-6345, and mention the transportation fund. Rides should be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance.

This article first appeared in the Feb. 12, 2016 issue of Phoenix Jewish News