WENY News - "Easy Rider" program helps the elderly get around

"Easy Rider" program helps the elderly get around

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PAINTED POST, N.Y. (WENY) -- When Katherine Celelli's husband passed away, and her eyesight began to go, her kids took away her car keys. Now, at ninety-two years young, she relies on Steuben County's office for the aging's "Easy Rider" program to take her to stores to go shopping and buy groceries.

"I needed someone and this is really what elderly people need," said Colonial Square Senior Village resident, Katherine Celelli. "Someone to come take them shopping," Visit a little bit and then come home and this is what Marie does. She's my lifesaver."

Each month, their driver,  Marie DeRosa, drives around any senior who wants to get out and about.The service travels through seven different routes throughout Steuben County and is free to any senior citizen who needs transportation.Then, when Marie brings them back home, she even helps them carry their groceries and makes sure they get inside okay.

"It's more about the socialization, really, than the grocery shopping itself to be honest," said Steuben County's Office for the Aging's Special Projects Coordinator, Kathy Burns. "It gets people out of their homes. It gets them talking and being with each other because social isolation is so difficult for older individuals and their health goes down dramatically when they're not around other people."

But to the seniors who use the service, the best part is spending time with their driver, Marie, and making memories. 

"We learn songs and we laugh a lot and we just enjoy ourselves and she's a wonderful driver," said Colonial Square Senior Village resident, Norma Rhodes.

If you'd like to learn more about the program, or to sign up for rides, you can contact program officials at (607) 664-2298.

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