Wilson Rides joins global giving initiative

Nov. 27—The ride-service volunteer app, Wilson Rides, plans to participate in GivingTuesday, a global generosity movement. It's asking the community for help to win a $5,000 grant.

Annually recognized as the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, the day celebrates giving back. In the United States, GivingTuesday is locally-led in more than 240 communities, networks and coalitions.

Wilson Rides Executive Director Gaye Lynn Wilson said that Wilson Rides is partnering with Give65. The program helps charitable organizations that provide basic needs to senior citizens.

"We are hoping to receive matching grants to support Wilson Rides and its ridership," said Wilson.

It's been half a year since the organization's first ride. During those six months, 41 seniors have signed up as riders. More than 20 drivers have volunteered their time and vehicles as well.

Wilson provided a snapshot of a month's volume of rides. In the month of October, Wilson Rides completed 64 trips, spanning 834 miles. Additionally, those volunteer drivers donated more than 40 hours.

The director feels like the organization has only just scratched the surface of the amount of rides that are needed in Wilson County. With a better view of demand in the county, Wilson knows they require more resources to meet those growing needs.

"In order for Wilson Rides to continue to grow, staff and service all the seniors in need and keep the rides cost effective, it needs to raise money," said Wilson. "Give65 gives us the best chance of reaching our goals because it is an organization dedicated to helping seniors primarily and provides matching funds for their non-profits."

Timing is critical to have the best chance at the $5,000 in matching grants, which are awarded on a first-donated, first-matched basis. Any donations should be made on Tuesday to qualify by visiting www.give65.org/WilsonRidesInc.

In its brief existence, Wilson Rides has made a larger impact than just miles clocked on the odometer.

Lucy Jay of Lebanon called the ride-sharing organization "a blessing." She learned about the service shortly after giving up driving.

"Knowing that it was available was a relief," said Jay.

Now, she's a frequent flyer.

"I have gone to doctor and dental appointments, social functions, meetings, hair and nail salons, and shopping," Jay said. "I have already scheduled four rides for December."

Another rider from Lebanon, Billy Gerald, has been using it since the organization launched.

"I love it," Gerald said.

Wilson Rides delivers residents over the age of 55 to and from destinations by pairing volunteer drivers with seniors in need of a ride, whether it's to a doctor's appointment or the grocery store. The goal is to give seniors without vehicular mobility a way to get around town without having to ask friends or family.

How to become a member

To start booking rides, riders must become members. The annual fee for membership is $25, and each ride costs $6 for the round trip.

Upon signing up, $49 will be due in total. That pays for the first annual membership fee as well as four rides up front.

Wilson said that after someone signs up, the organization will go perform a home visit. During that interview, the organization asks the new riders questions pertaining to their mobility, such as, "Can you get in and out of an SUV (sport-utility vehicle)?"

These notes then go into their profile so that a volunteer driver can see any special accommodations that might be required for the ride, so that they can make plans accordingly.