Georgetown nonprofit gets seniors moving

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Faith In Action executive director Vickie Orcutt, who started with the nonprofit in 2015, is also licensed to drive the group’s 14-passenger van. (Eddie Harbor / Community Impact Journal)

Although it has undergone a few name changes in its 20-year history, Faith In Action — Driving Seniors was focused from the start on providing free transportation services to the elderly population of Georgetown.

For CEO Vickie Orcutt, who is in her sixth year with the group that started as Georgetown Interfaith Caregivers in 2001, the group’s focus remains the same.

“The flagship of our services is transportation, and that’s through a volunteer model,” Orcutt said.

Over the past three years, the group has taken steps to drastically perfect this model starting in 2018 when it added a 14-passenger van. The Go-Van-Go program has helped expand Faith In Action’s work by allowing her to offer group outings, mainly to do grocery shopping, which has enabled her to make 10,000 trips in one year to the first time. This increase continued in 2019 with a record 13,612 races.

“We put in the van program to free up some of our volunteers because on any given day we would have five to ten volunteers at the grocery store,” Orcutt said. “The van program allowed us to organize a group shopping event and then those five or 10 volunteers would be available to help with individual trips to doctor’s appointments. “

However, once the pandemic hit, those numbers plummeted for both clients and volunteers. Whereas in the past Faith In Action could offer clients two trips per week – one medical trip and one of the client’s choice – the program had to cut back on what it could offer.

“With the slow re-engagement of our volunteers, we had to regroup and focus on the medical trips initially,” Orcutt said. “But as more and more destinations opened up, we made it a race of choice for seniors. “

Then, as the peak of the pandemic subsided, Faith In Action was able to reintroduce its van program – with a paid driver making eight trips a week to HEB and Walmart – which in turn freed up volunteers as it had. made when it was launched.

“We’re still in a growth model,” Orcutt explained. “Some people are still not [ready], but there are other people who certainly still have this need. Service requests haven’t slowed down, it’s just that the feedback for some people has been a bit slow.

As commutes slowed amid the pandemic, Faith In Action pivoted to provide another service to her clients with her Buddy program, in which volunteers commit to making phone calls to check in and chat.

“It has gone down,” Orcutt said. “We know this is beneficial because 60% of our seniors we serve live alone and social isolation harms us all. But if you think of someone who is a senior, who has limited accessibility to go out into the community to begin with, having that phone call can be a lifeline. So at this point I don’t see it go away. In addition, Faith In Action also offers a medical supply closet open to all Georgetown residents, regardless of age, which can include durable and donated items such as wheelchairs, walkers, bedside chests, canes, crutches. and shower stools.


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