By Barrett Seaman –
Since a friend borrowed her Volvo and totaled it in a three-car accident, Barbara Bennion Friedlich has relied on a local car service to get her to and from various medical appointments, as well as to her Fred Astaire dance classes. “They always arrive on time, in any weather,” she says, adding that “it’s kind of a social thing, “ as she gets to chat with the drivers, who are essentially her neighbors. ”I could use it twice as often,” she confesses, but she restrains herself, thinking that there might be others out there in greater need.
Ms. Friedlich, who turned 90 in mid-February, is one of some 150 citizens of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow who are members of ITAV10591. For a $25-a-year membership, she has virtually unlimited access to such transportation. Later this spring, ITAV (as in “It Takes a Village”)10591 will expand its offerings to include a wide range of home services, including help with computers or TV hookups, fixing a broken toilet flusher, filling out cumbersome insurance forms, or walking a dog—any home service that does not require a professional license.
The goal is simple enough: to provide the kind of everyday help that will allow residents to stay in their homes and live independently as they age. The model for ITAV10591 is the Center for Aging in Place (CAP), founded by Lois Steinberg in Larchmont, with satellites, including ITAV10591, serving the elderly and otherwise homebound all over Westchester County. Annegret Wolf Rice was the first to bring the concept to Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow.
The service opened for business on July 5, 2016 with two drivers and two service coordinators whose job it was to match people in need of a ride with a driver. Volunteers in each category have grown steadily: there are currently 15 drivers and 11 service coordinators. Paid members call ITAV, where a service coordinator will then contact a driver on duty and make arrangements.
Demand has grown steadily over the service’s first year-and-a half, and the addition of the home services is sure to drive it further. “I personally would like to have sixty volunteers,” says ITAV10591’s board chair, Barbara Carr. The experience of similar organizations, she says, suggests that that would be sufficient to handle 100 clients.
The group has already signed up a number of volunteers for the home service. Each applicant must undergo a background check done professionally by TruHire, an employment screening agency. Those seeking more information can find it on ITAV’s website: www.itav10591.org.
Even as it grows internally, ITAV10591 is beginning to spread the word to surrounding villages. On Wednesday, March 21, Tarrytown’s ITAV founders and volunteers will hold an information session from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Irvington Public Library, 12 South Astor St., Irvington. The idea is to help other communities set up their own services modeled on already existing ITAV programs. So far, says board chair Barbara Carr, she knows that the mayors of Ossining and Elmsford plan to attend.