Metro program celebrates 10 years of giving affordable rides to older residents

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A metro program is celebrating 10 years of service to the area's most-seasoned citizens in need of help with some of the most basic tasks.

"It's evolved over the years. As our population has aged, we have more and more riders that need rides," said Taly Friedman, the director of volunteer engagement at Jewish Family Services. "There's so many people in our community that can't get to their doctor appointments or to see friends. For them to be able to be an active part of the community and get to those necessary appointments, they have to have a ride."

The JET Express program was established in 2008 as an inexpensive service to people over 60 years old and without transportation. Currently, there are more than 100 JET Express volunteers.

Friedman said the volunteers do more than give rides. They also spend time with their riders, help them perform tasks at home and establish meaningful bonds.

Kathy Delia has been volunteering with the program since March 2018, and she said it didn't take long for her to connect with Gitla Doppelt, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor who lives at home alone.

"I was very close with my mother, and when I lost her, that left a void. But over time, I had to come to accept it. When I met Gitla, she immediately just took over my heart," Delia said.

Delia said she spends a great amount of time with Gitla playing cards, talking about life, and this year they celebrated the holidays together. Delia believes she's learned more about herself since meeting Gitla and is reminded that through Gitla's experiences during the Holocaust that she can overcome anything.

"It rocked my world because I never heard those stories before. I didn't know that element of the Holocaust. But when I think about her positivity, it made me much more appreciative of everything, all of the blessings in my life," Delia said.

The JET Express program costs riders $5 each way and riders can sign up online here.

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