For many individuals in Greater Cleveland, one of life’s most pressing questions is, “How am I going to get there?” For the older adult population and those with disabilities, that question becomes more difficult to answer.
Enter Senior Transportation Connection (STC). They are a nonprofit transportation organization that serves a number of communities in Cuyahoga County by providing affordable, quality transportation to adults ages 60 and older, as well as individuals with disabilities that render them unable to drive. I’ve been privileged to work with STC over the past few weeks, witnessing patience, diligence, and a love of community in every single employee here. The impact that Senior Transportation Connection makes on the lives of those they serve is truly remarkable.
I work directly with the Director of Development at STC, formulating project ideas in an effort to pinpoint ways to create sustainable growth. This internship has already proved itself a valuable learning experience, giving me ample opportunities to refine my research and writing skills, and connecting me with other professionals in the Greater Cleveland nonprofit community. Currently, I’m working on a project to outline the implementation of an “on-demand” transportation model in the coming years, which would likely employ the use of an Internet based platform (think Uber). I created a survey, which we sent to a selection of our clients, to gauge how seniors in Cuyahoga County are using technology. Hopefully, we can use these findings to analyze how technology can impact the future of paratransit.
Through my experience at STC, I’ve realized that transportation for seniors is not talked about enough. As the Baby Boomer generation ages, the older adult population will skyrocket. By 2030, one in five Americans will be over the age of 65. With so many of these adults choosing to stay in suburbs that lack public transportation, how will they be able to get around when they can no longer safely drive? I find myself articulating new questions like this every day. I get the feeling that when my internship ends in August, I’ll have only scratched the surface in being able to answer them.
Rachel Szeles, a senior at Baldwin Wallace University double majoring in Spanish and Psychology with a Legal Studies minor, is placed at Senior Transportation Connection. Rachel assists staff with a strategic planning process through stakeholder surveys and data collection as well as implementation of a marketing plan.