Jan. 06--VICTORVILLE -- A local nonprofit agency that serves seniors and other High Desert residents in need has received a major transportation grant.
The Victor Valley Community Services Council, which has served the area since 1956, was awarded a New Freedom grant to increase its transportation for low-income seniors citizens and disabled residents, according to Midge Nicosia, the group's executive director.
The $67,325 grant, which comes from the San Bernardino Associated Governments, will be used for operating costs, with an additional $7,500 for capital improvement.
Nicosia said the grant will help in various areas for the nonprofit, including hiring extra staff and a Class-B driver for a retired 14-passenger bus donated by the Victor Valley Transit Authority.
"Our volunteers use their own vehicles to make about 600 trips, taking our seniors to all sorts of appointments," Nicosia said. "That's about 18,000 miles a year."
Nicosia said many of her seniors are too physically frail or feel uncomfortable taking any sort of public transportation.
"Many of them need extra help getting on and off a bus, or are uneasy around strangers -- things a regular bus driver doesn't have time to deal with on an ongoing basis," Nicosia said. "My goal is to populate our buses with volunteers and to make it a fun and comfortable experience"
Nicosia also said when seniors have to wait for the bus before and after doctor's appointments, it becomes a safety and health issue for many of them.
"We should be getting the bus by the end of January and it should be in service sometime in February," Nicosia said. "We'll probably have a launch party with a ribbon cutting, with all the High Desert cities invited." The VVCSC serves Apple Valley, Victorville, Phelan, Hesperia, Adelanto, and parts of Lucerne Valley and Barstow.
Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227 or at RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com.
Copyright 2014 - Daily Press, Victorville, Calif.