Services will benefit seniors and individuals with disabilities
Congressman Brian Higgins and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced $2,652,265 in federal funding for transportation and enhanced mobility programs, including 47 vehicles, to benefit seniors and individuals with disabilities in Western New York. The federal funding will be supported by $1,751,952 in matching funds for a total investment of $4,404,217.
"A daily commute to work, reaching medical appointments and staying active in the community can be a challenge without reliable means of transportation," Higgins said Friday. "These funds will go a long way towards ensuring all members of our community have access to transportation, a sense of independence, and a high quality of life."
Poloncarz added, "Many of us take the act of driving for granted and rarely think of what it would be like if we could not get ourselves to work, to our appointments or to community events. For many seniors and individuals with disabilities, however, the ability to participate in these activities can be curtailed by a lack of transportation. Thanks to Congressman Higgins, many more people in Erie County will now have access to safe, reliable transportation to get them where they need to go."
The funding will be distributed to public and not-for-profit organizations to be used toward additional vehicles, GPS equipment, bench and shelter improvements, program monitoring, program implementation, administrative services and expansion of existing services.
The funding provided through the Federal Transit Administration will add the projects to the 2014-18 Transportation Improvement Program schedule maintained by the state's Department of Transportation, under the advisement of Western New York's local metropolitan planning organization, the Greater Buffalo Regional Transportation Council.
"These transportation funds are essential to increasing the quality of life for seniors and people with disabilities," People Inc. President and CEO Rhonda Frederick said. "Whether it's a group of seniors at one of our independent apartment buildings hopping in a new van - thanks to Congressman Higgins - and going to Canalside or someone with a disability that wants to work at HARBORCENTER, they, too, can enjoy and participate in Buffalo's Renaissance."
"This funding is absolutely essential for us to provide reliable transportation for the young adults in our STEPS (Success Through Engagement and Positive Supports) program, a highly individualized, community-based program for adults with developmental disabilities," said Stephen R. Anderson, Ph.D., CEO of The Summit Center. "The vans we purchase with these funds will allow these young adults to have greater opportunities to participate in community activities, explore a variety of volunteer opportunities, and visit work sites where they can develop vocational skills."
Mindy Cervoni, president and CEO of Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled, added, "These grants will give people with developmental disabilities access to transportation they do not currently have. Some people we serve currently have no access to transportation and cannot control whether or not they get to a doctor's appointment, go to their place of worship, their job or an interview. They will now have this opportunity and we thank Congressman Higgins."
"We are delighted that this funding will allow Heritage Centers to provide a great deal of assistance to individuals who just need a little help," Heritage Centers President and CEO Bill McHugh said.
Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA executive director, said, "I want to thank Congressman Higgins and County Executive Mark Poloncarz for their combined support in seeking much-needed additional funding for Metro to be able to continue its paratransit service past March 31, 2016, for this section of our service area. PAL transportation provides a vital connection to medical appointments, employment and family visits for those unable to use regular Metro bus service."
Timothy Pfol, executive director of Southeast Works, said, "This award will allow us to purchase eight new buses for Southeast Works, which was desperately needed due our aging vehicle fleet."
"We're pushing hard to open up more and more meaningful life experiences for the individuals we serve. With new vehicles, we'll be able to offer more opportunities for individuals with disabilities to connect to their community through volunteer work, job training and job placement," said Jeff Paterson, executive director of Niagara Cerebral Palsy.
Opportunities Unlimited Executive Director Kellie Spychalski added, "Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara is dedicated to maximizing the quality of life for the people we support, and we are focused on providing them with the resources to reach their dreams and goals. As a recipient of this grant, we are grateful to be able to offer increased transportation opportunities for our individuals to explore and participate in the community and ultimately determine their future."