The Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) recently approved a two-year grant of $370,873 to support the operation of ITNOrlando—a unique transportation alternative for older adults who no longer drive. This brings the Foundation’s total investment in the planning, development and implementation of the program to about $692,000 since 2004.
ITNOrlando, the Independent Transportation Network, is a community service providing older adults and those with visual handicaps needed transportation 24 hours a day each day of the year by appointment.
Participants in the program, modeled after the original ITN program developed in Portland, Maine, pay an annual membership fee of $50 and then set up a transportation account that is debited when the member gets a ride. Participants get rides in private automobiles driven by program volunteers as well as paid staff.
ITNOrlando is one of the first three spin-offs of the original ITN program. Based on its success here and in Portland, other communities are making plans to launch service because it offers an innovative solution to older adult transportation problems.
ITN is getting national publicity as well. “USA Today” newspaper recently featured a story on the program and its beginnings.
Locally, the 84-square-mile service area for ITNOrlando includes Winter Park, Maitland, Eatonville and surrounding areas. The service area corresponds with the focus area of WPHF work, but the goal is for ITNOrlando to spread throughout Central Florida.
“The Winter Park Health Foundation has been a strong supporter of the program in the belief that older adults must have transportation to remain healthy and active members of the community,” said Judy Thames, WPHF Trustee and Chair of its Older Adults Work Group, noting that lack of mobility can lead to social isolation and depression.
ITNOrlando provided its first ride on Oct. 26, 2006 and since has provided more than 1,500 rides. Most of the rides have been provided for medical, shopping and recreational needs.
For more information on ITNOrlando go to www.itnorlando.org or call 407-228-7761.
Winter Park Health Foundation is a private, not-for-profit organization supporting programs that improve the health of youth, older adults and the underserved in communities in Orange County, FL. The Foundation also conducts research and provides education on health issues to encourage policies and practices that create healthier communities. For more information on the Foundation, go to www.wphf.org