Need a lift? Senior shuttle offers important service

john-paroBy Jaime Thomas

As a person gets older, it becomes harder and harder to maintain independence—both financially and physically.

For those getting up in their years in Granville, getting around does not have to be a problem.

The senior shuttle, which has been around for about five years, provides free, local rides to any residents of the village or town over the age of 55.

“It’s doctor’s appointments, it’s banking, it’s grocery shopping; it provides a little support for the families” said Village Clerk Rick Roberts of the program.

But John Paro, a three-year driver of the shuttle, said often outside help is not an option.

“They don’t have any other way. Many don’t have relatives or family in the area they can count on,” he said.

Both Paro and Roberts said the shuttle was the brainchild of former Town Supervisor and Rotarian John Cosey in 2008.

“He went to Sen. Betty Little and asked for a grant for a senior shuttle. We got $30,000, which went to a van and operational expenses,” Paro said. Since then, the service has run primarily on donations. The village and town of Granville each donate $2,500 every year, and the Mettowee Valley Ecumenical Council has raised almost $12,000 through businesses and organizations.

Roberts said the shuttle allows people who appreciate their independence to maintain it.

“What we see here is there are an awful lot of seniors who have fairly essential business they can take care of through that. It’s a most appreciated service for a rural community like Granville,” he said, pointing out that larger, more populated areas often offer municipal transportation.

Though the shuttle sees a lot of use—60 to 70 regular users and 20 to 30 occasional riders who rode to 1600 destinations last year—Paro wants people to realize is that the shuttle serves those throughout the town.

“We get a lot of people, but we’re not getting the people outside of the village that could use it, like in Middle or North Granville. I want to get as many people as I can,” he said.

Though there is no fee to use the shuttle, Paro said many of his passengers put in a dollar or two when they ride; others are so happy to have the service they ask family members to donate money toward the shuttle instead of birthday or Christmas presents.

He said some people are hesitant to be categorized as a senior, but most gladly take advantage of the service and regularly ask if it will continue to be available next year.

“When I’m at Price Chopper waiting, I’ll have people from out of town say, “Your community is so lucky to have something like this,” Paro said. The shuttle only runs within Granville, with the exception of going to Mettowee Valley Family Health across the Vermont border.

Those interested in hitching a ride call Paro at 518-361-7677 any time and leave a message if he doesn’t answer.

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