There were smiles all around during the ribbon cutting for the brand-new van for the Marion Council on Aging on Friday afternoon. The 8-passenger Type E Ford van was awarded to the town by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Coastline Elderly Services, which assisted in the paperwork in qualifying and securing the new vehicle. The new vehicle brings the fleet up to three vans.
“This isn’t just a van; it’s a social opportunity,” said Susan Schwager, Marion COA Director. “This van brings people together with friends to get out and live their lives.”
According to Schwager, many elder adults who no longer drive find friendship and happiness in boarding the van to grocery shop, go on outings, and otherwise get up and get out of the house.
Two vehicles were presented: one for Marion, and another for the Dartmouth Council on Aging. State Representative William Straus, D-Marion, and Representative Chris Markey, D-Dartmouth, and Paula Shiner, Coastline Elderly Services CEO, helped cut the ribbon and handed over the car keys to the COA.
Each Council on Aging contributed 20 percent of the cost of the van, while the State Department of Transportation funded the remaining 80 percent.
“People wonder where the extra pennies on the gas tax go,” said Rep. Straus. “It’s not just for roads and bridges, but also for daily transportation for older adults in our communities.”
Straus thanked Shiner for handling the lengthy paperwork involved in securing the state funds.
According to Schwager, the number of older adults age 60 and up in Marion increased in 2012 from 1,513 to 1,635.
“We expect to continue to see increases in the number and types of services provided by the COA so that Marion older adults will be able to continue to age in place and remain in their homes,” Schwager said.
The COA vans provided more than 5,996 rides in 2012, which is an increase of 733 rides, or 14 percent, over 2011 figures. In addition to van rides, the council van drivers delivered over 5,340 meals in 2012.
By Joan Hartnett-Barry