Chippewa County program provides rides to people in need

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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU)- It's something many of us take for granted, being able to drive ourselves to doctor’s appointments or to the grocery store to buy food.

But for many that's not always an option. That's why a program in one Western Wisconsin county is stepping in to help.

About six years ago, Chippewa County started its Volunteer Caregiver Program. It’s a way for the elderly and people with disabilities to get to and from doctors’ appointments and run errands. In the coming years the county says the need for the program will grow.

“It was a blessing to me to get a ride to Eau Claire,” Billie Gunderman said.

The program has been there for Billie Gunderman over the past few years, helping her get to important appointments when family and friends are busy.

Joy LaMartina, who heads the Volunteer Caregiver Progarm says the lack of public transportation and the rural landscape of Chippewa County makes it difficult for many to get to and from where they need to go.

Those issues combined with an elderly population that's grown 12% in the last two years means the volunteer caregiver program is always looking for new drivers to help out.

“It's a wonderful way to volunteer and our recipients are so thankful to their drivers,” LaMartina explained.

LaMartina says in the year 2013 they provided more than 1,100 rides to people across Chippewa County free of charge.

The program is made possible thanks to a collaboration between Chippewa County, The United Way and Chippewa River Industries.

The program is available for people in Chippewa County who are not eligible for Medicaid, those with disabilities or people in other difficult life situations also qualify.

LaMartina says volunteers receive training before they start driving. Volunteers also receive gas cards to offset part of the cost of driving.

If you are interested in volunteering for the program or if you'd like to get a ride you can get more information by calling 715-726-7822.

We also have a link with more information on the right-hand side of this screen.

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