When we gather with our family or friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, we probably don’t think much about how we will get to the gathering. Transportation is something we often take for granted. It’s easy to forget that for many poor and vulnerable people in Ohio, transportation is one of the biggest barriers to success and well-being. This is especially the case for low-income seniors who wish to stay in their homes. Thankfully, Catholic Social Services (CSS) helps seniors and veterans in Licking County overcome this barrier.
When 78-year-old Leona found out she had pre-cancer in her lungs last year, she had no idea how she was going to get from Newark to Columbus for treatment. Though she still drives, she has macular degeneration and, therefore, limits her driving to short trips around town. She certainly doesn’t feel comfortable driving in Columbus. She lives alone and doesn’t have any family in the area. Thankfully, she heard about CSS’ Transportation Services program from her good friend who lives across the hall.
After her initial diagnosis, CSS’ drivers took Leona to the James Cancer Center in Columbus for three weeks in a row. She says that if it wasn’t for CSS, “I wouldn’t have gotten there. I don’t drive in Columbus; I don’t know how to get to the James.” The drivers called her the night before each trip to remind her when they would pick her up. She says, “The guys that drive me are so nice. They do anything to accommodate you.”
After those first three weeks of using CSS’ Transportation Services, Leona had to continue traveling to Columbus once a month for follow-up tests. A few months later, she found out she needed to have brain surgery. Even though she wishes, “it would all just go away,” she is happy to know that she can rely on CSS for transportation. According to Leona, “They don’t hesitate or say they can’t, they are always here.”
For Leona, CSS’ service is more than just transportation. “On a scale of 0 to 5, if there was 15, that’s what I would give CSS. I don’t know what I would do without CSS.”
Leona doesn’t know what else is in store for her, health-wise, but knowing she can count on CSS for her transportation relieves part of the burden. She says, “When I started this journey, I could always call them and they always say, ‘We will never leave you there’. I think CSS is the best and I don’t know what I would do without them. I will stay with them.”