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Volunteer drivers needed in Windham


WINDHAM — The departure of Cooperative Alliance for Regional Transportation’s (CART) services from the Windham region has left a growing void for the elderly who had previously relied on its affordable bus trips to get them to medical appointments and the grocery store.

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In an attempt to cut $13,000 in town spending, the Windham Board of Selectmen voted last January to withdraw from the Derry-based agency that once filled that need.

At the time, then board chairman Bruce Breton said Windham could do without CART’s services since the town already allows its residents to schedule rides in the municipal van.
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But despite the services offered by the town, the staff of a nearby nonprofit said there are still plenty of Windham residents who have been asking for help lately.

“Right now we’re seeing a definite increase in the need for transportation services,” Cindee Tanuma, executive director of Community Caregivers of Greater Derry. “So we’re currently filling that need almost entirely by drivers in surrounding towns.
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Tanuma said the local nonprofit, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary later this year, is hoping some Windham volunteers might step forward to help out.

“If you have two days a month to drive a fellow community member to a local appointment, we want to hear from you,” Tanuma said, noting that a common misconception about volunteering is that it’s more of a commitment than it really is.
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“For every new driver, we can help three new members from the community,” she said.

Organization officials said the majority of rides given would be within a 10-mile radius, though occasionally some volunteers might be asked to drive clients to other nearby Massachusetts or southern N.H. towns.
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Finding dependable volunteers is a constant struggle for the Caregivers, according to Tanuma, who noted that outreach efforts typically take place during town fairs and other public events.

Staffed almost entirely by volunteers, Community Caregivers assists the elderly and disabled with services such as friendly visiting, grocery shopping, light chores, home repair and maintenance, and medical transportation, with all services provided at no cost to the clients.
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“Services offered through Caregivers are vitally important as they allow individuals to maintain independence in the community and home environment,” Tanuma said. “The idea is to encourage citizens to help others within their own neighborhoods and communities.
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Volunteer training will take place in early June. For more information on current volunteer opportunities, visit www.comcaregivers.org or call Tanuma at 432-9877.

aguilmet@newstote.com
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