In 90 minutes on Tuesday, former Justice of the Peace Jimmy Bryant raised$6,200 in an effort to help save the medical transportation portion of theFaulkner County Senior Citizens Program.
He has been calling individuals on the phone and putting out the word on hisFacebook status.
It was announced over the weekend that rides given to individuals for "lifenecessary destinations" -- such as dialysis, CARTI, therapy, doctors’appointments -- would cease because of a lack of funding.
Debra Robinson, executive director of the board of the Senior Citizens, said$45,000 would have to be found before the program could continue past Feb.18.
Robinson said a request to the City of Conway to supply those funds, as thecity had provided in the past and for six months in 2010, was denied.Mayor Tab Townsell said he regretted the loss of the service provided by theSenior Citizens program, but because of budgetary woes, the city’sobligations to police, fire and sanitation were a priority.
The cutback would affect only medical transportation. The program willcontinue to provide meals and activities at its six centers, meals deliveredto home-bound individuals and transportation to and from its centers inConway, Greenbrier, Mayflower, Twin Groves, Vilonia and Mount Vernon.After reading the story in Sunday’s Log Cabin Democrat, Bryant, archivist atthe University of Central Arkansas, said he wondered: "Why not solve thisproblem ourselves? I’m not in politics anymore, and this would be a greatway to help the community.
"Everyone is very sensitive to this issue, and I think with help from a lotof people, we could get this resolved rather quickly, this week ifpossible," Bryant said.
When he calls, he’s asking for $1,000 from each."If they can’t give that, then I’m asking for whatever they feel they cangive," Bryant said.
Robinson said she greatly appreciates Bryant’s efforts and the efforts andconcern of others.
"I have had lots of calls from interested people in the community. Maybethey can’t make donations, but they will do whatever they can, because theyknow the service is so vital and they can’t stand the idea of this goingaway.
"I’m just feeling so good about the response. It’s heartwarming. I hopeothers will join the bandwagon," she said.
Robinson said she’s been on the phone constantly since Sunday’s article,hearing from people offering to hold a fund-raising event, researchtransportation grants or give help in other ways. She’s heard from many whosupport the program.
"Maybe we could at least get half of it and that would keep us going for sixmonths," she said.
"The aging population is growing, We need to add services, not cut services."I’m feeling hopeful," she said.
Those wishing to make a tax deductible contribution may send a check toFaulkner County Senior Citizens Program, Transportation, P.O. Box 1429,Conway, AR 72033, or drop one by 1620 Donaghey St. in Conway. Hours are 8a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday.
Members of the board of the Faulkner County Senior Citizens Program areJanet Wilson, president; Pat Hillman, Bill Zellner, Barbara Money, FreddieWilliams, Ann Armstrong, State Sen. Gilbert Baker, R-Conway, Angie Byrd,Elois McCaghren, Fred Petrucelli, Mary Boyd, Joy Ealy, Jerry Lancaster,Veletta Cummings, Billy Mitchell, Jerry Williams and James Edwards. Theboard includes clients and representatives from the communities served.
(Becky Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling505-1234.)