Updated: Apr 14
Still Going Strong—Thanks to Senior Ride Nashville
Ninety-three years old and still going strong—thanks to volunteers at Senior Ride Nashville! Three days a week this lady goes to the Y for exercise, and once a week she goes to her own volunteer commitment at St. Thomas Hospital. She doesn't let her age hold her back from what is important to her, but without Sue Baumgartner and the other volunteers at Senior Ride she would be homebound. Losing opportunities to take care of herself physically, to have social contact, and to contribute to the well being of others would almost certainly send her into premature decline.
Senior Ride Nashville's creators—the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee and the Senior Transportation Leadership Coalition—recognized the hazards of no longer being able to drive and found a way to meet the need. Begun just in 2017, the program is growing as more people learn about it—both riders and volunteer drivers.
As a volunteer, Sue is appreciative of the how easy the management team makes her job. Every Friday the next week's requests are posted online. She can select what fits her schedule and preferred driving radius. She gives half a day a week. The minimum requirement for volunteer drivers is one time a month.
Typically, riders need to go to doctor appointments, the grocery store, or a social engagement. They can request a second stop on the same trip if need be. They must also be able to get themselves in and out of the car, and the management team works to match their abilities to do so with the vehicle that will be most suitable for them. Currently, riders need to plan their outings at least three days in advance; however, sooner turnarounds may come as the organization grows. Any last minute cancelations are quickly communicated to the driver, respecting the volunteer's time.
Riders pay $6.00 per round trip. Very often in appreciation they want to tip or give a gift to their drivers, but the volunteers are strictly volunteer. They find their pay in knowing their service contributes the quality of life of their aging riders.
"I marvel at the people I meet," says Sue. She enjoys the conversations and is inspired by their spirit. Retired herself, she finds in them great role models for her own path ahead. She sees possibilities for when she is 93 and is glad Senior Ride Nashville will be around for her too.