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Village Neighbors offering members rides to COVID-19 vaccinations

  • Village Neighbors volunteer/member Janee Stone, left, delivers a gift bag to member Lena O’Dou, of Wendell, in May when the nonprofit that provides services to people ages 60 and older was distributing bags containing pandemic-prevention essentials. Village Neighbors has resumed providing members with rides to medical appointments as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes increasingly available. Stone and her husband, Don Stone, are qualified drivers, meaning they have been fully vaccinated for at least two weeks. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 3/29/2021 6:04:19 PM

Hey, need a lift?

Village Neighbors, a nonprofit that helps senior citizens in Wendell, New Salem, Leverett and Shutesbury live at home for as long as possible, has resumed its popular practice of providing members with rides to medical appointments, timed conveniently as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes increasingly available. However, only two rides to vaccine appointments had been requested as of late last week.

“It has kind of surprised us that more people have not called for help,” said Nancy Spittle, Village Neighbors’ member coordinator.

Members are 60 years old and older — the same demographic prioritized for vaccines once the science developed — and the Orange Board of Health has already held vaccination clinics for residents of Orange, New Salem and Wendell. Spittle suspects these are the main reasons that more members have not inquired about using the recently resumed service.

“We have realized how incredibly resilient our people are,” she said.

Village Neighbors’ services are available to members only. Information about membership can be found at bit.ly/3rvW7nm.

Spittle said medical appointment drivers are vetted volunteers who have been fully vaccinated for at least two weeks. Rides are socially distanced, with the member sitting on the passenger’s side of the backseat. Both occupants are required to wear masks and use hand sanitizer. Spittle said the front-right and back-left windows are kept down for ventilation — lowered only 3 inches if the weather is too cold.

Village Neighbors Treasurer Don Stone said there are least 13 qualified drivers, and the organization is reaching out to members to find anyone who needs a ride to a vaccination. He said he has conducted one such ride already. Members can call 413-345-6894 or send an email to servicerequests@villageneighbors.org to arrange a ride.

Volunteers interested in resuming driving can contact Village Neighbors at 413-345-6894 or volunteers@villageneighbors.org, and submit their most recent driver’s license and “Coverage Selections” page of their auto insurance. The organization will also need to see a COVID-19 vaccination card showing a completed vaccination. Information on how to become a volunteer is available at bit.ly/2Pg5FWp.

Spittle said rides to medical appointments was Village Neighbors’ main provided service before the pandemic struck. The organization, launched in October 2018, typically also provides rides to grocery shopping and social events. Additionally, volunteers are known to help members register to vote, and to visit members in their homes to help with cooking, moving furniture, changing smoke alarm batteries and other tasks.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




Greenfield Recorder

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Phone: (413) 772-0261
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