Page 4 - Heart of Hoag June 2014
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Senior Gets a Lift from Hoag
If you’re wondering where Guli Karim is, here’s a clue: The last place you should look is her couch.
She’s been active and engaged her entire life – and these days you’ll find the energetic 88-year-old out and about with friends, running errands, and keeping appointments with her doctors and hair stylist.
She maintains her active lifestyle in spite of the fact that she is legally blind and no longer able to drive. When she needs to leave her house, Guli simply calls the OASIS Senior Center in Newport Beach for a ride on the center’s aptly named “Care-A-Van.”
For just $3 each way, an OASIS Care-A-Van driver picks up Guli at her home and takes her anywhere in Newport Beach she needs to go. It’s one of seven senior transport programs funded by Hoag’s Community Benefit Program that provide Orange County’s senior citizens with reliable, safe and affordable transportation. Just as important, the program helps seniors remain active and independent.
Guli, one of the OASIS Care-A-Van’s longest-riding passengers, says she
would have been homebound were it not for the transportation program. “I cannot afford taxis. If there was no OASIS, I would have been sitting in the
house,” she says.
Since it was founded nearly 20 years ago, the Community Benefit Program has provided more than $7 million to help fund senior transportation programs in Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Irvine and Laguna Beach.
“A person’s mental health, physical well-being and quality of life depends upon staying active and engaged.”
“In Southern California, if you are unable to drive or afford transportation, you run the risk of becoming isolated and unable to participate in the kind of activities that ensure a good quality of life,” says Robert T. Braithwaite, president and chief executive officer of Hoag.
The program has had a tremendous impact on the seniors who use the vans to run errands and to attend classes and programs at the OASIS Senior Center.
“We take people from their homes to do grocery shopping, banking, to come to the center and to get to medical appointments,” explains Celeste Jardine-Haug, senior services manager at OASIS. “The idea is to keep people like Guli healthy, educated and mentally engaged in life.”
Jardine-Haug says the center began operating a van in 1990 to help shuttle seniors. But demand quickly outpaced capacity, and the center found itself in the frustrating position of having to turn seniors away. Thanks to a Hoag Family Foundation grant in 1993, the center was able to increase its number of vans and improve transportation options to otherwise housebound seniors.
There are now five vans in Newport Beach alone, and most are wheelchair accessible. Jardine-Haug says the center helps identify seniors who are ready to give up their keys.
“As soon as we hear someone say something like, ‘I probably shouldn’t drive anymore,’ we say, ‘OK!’” she says. “It allows them to keep living independently but if they shouldn’t drive, they won’t have to.”
Hoag Helps Keep Seniors on a Roll
In addition to the OASIS Senior Center’s program, donations made by Hoag’s Community Benefit Program help fund senior transportation programs in Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa and Irvine.
Costa Mesa residents over the age of 50 who need a lift for medical appointments in Costa Mesa and the surrounding area enjoy free door-to- door service. Riders may be accompanied by an assistant, and the vans are wheelchair accessible.
In Huntington Beach, Hoag helps fund an average of 200 one-way trips a day for residents 55 and over. A fleet of 16 vehicles – from sedans to buses – rolls throughout Surf City, taking seniors anywhere they need to go throughout Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley and even to Hoag in Newport Beach.
Most of the seniors who access the free program are over 75, many have given up the keys and most are low-income. The program makes a big difference to them and their ability to stay active and engaged, says Randy Pesqueira, Senior Services Supervisor for Huntington Beach.
“We don’t want them to have to make the decision, ‘Do I eat lunch today or do I ride today?’” Pesqueira says. “Hoag’s contribution makes a big difference.”
For more information, or to access the vans:
OASIS Senior Center, Newport Beach: 949-644-3244
Costa Mesa Senior Center – Transportation: 949-645-2356 ext.19 City of Huntington Beach: 714-536-5543
Lakeview Senior Center, Irvine: 949-724-6900
Susie DiGiovanna, Social Services Supervisor at OASIS along with long-time rider Guli Karim.
4 COMMUNITY IS THE HEART OF HOAG
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