Connecting volunteer drivers to seniors and others who need rides is the ultimate goal of America’s Volunteer Driver Center, explains Katherine Freund in the above interview. Speaking at the 5th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCars Summit, Freund, Founder and President of the non-profit ITNAmerica, points to World War II Red Cross blood drives as the inspiration for this latest initiative from her organization.
As Freund says,
“And [approximately] 41% of the blood in the nation’s hospitals is donated by volunteers. And I thought, if people will lie down and give their blood away, I think they will give someone’s mother a ride to the supermarket.”Katherine Freund, ITNAmerica
Building on ITNAmerica’s technology and operations platform, the objective of the America’s Volunteer Driver Center is to help community-based organizations create their own transportation services. Much like a blood drive, Freund envisions local organizations bringing the volunteers and reaching out to those in need.
We Want You! Public – Private – Philanthropy #
Although the AVDC is about improving mobility, better health is one of the expected outcomes. Better mobility means older patients won’t miss their doctors’ appointments. There are the indirect benefits like the potential for a reduction in social isolation. Quoting a CDC report, Freund suggests that
“The incidence of dementia is 50% higher in people who are socially isolated. And and heart disease is [more than] 25% higher. Right. So it’s it’s depressing. You know, it’s like getting buried alive.”Katherine Freund, ITNAmerica
Similar to a public health campaign, ITNAmerica is partnering with the CDC to spread the word about this new program in a national public information campaign. Freund emphasizes that it will require a troika of public, philanthropic, and private partners to spread the word and build a grassroots volunteer driver solution that scales to a national level.
With ITNAmerica supplying the portals, along with its established driver screening, trip algorithms, and ride-matching back-end, any organization with volunteers should be able to help the mobility challenged. Freund is optimistic regarding the positive that this new ITNAmerica initiative will have,
“So communities can set up their own transportation service and most of them are free….We will have effectively created a digital presence, a digital transformation that is accessible to any community in America to tackle their local transportation needs.”
Coverage is provided by ViodiTV and CARTS.