Needham Community Council – Needham, MA
In 2017, the Needham Community Council began supplementing its volunteer driver medical transportation program with trips provided through the ridehailing company, Lyft. Lyft rides were funded through the Needham Community Council operating budget and a donation from Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital – Needham.
NCMM's Promising Practices Database
Wheels for Wellness
Service: County-wide volunteer driver program
Provider Organization: City of Pittsfield RSVP Program
Funders: RSVP, BCAC, BIO, Healthcare
Other partners: Private, non profit health care organizations, community action agency, faith-based coalition
Wheels for Wellness exemplifies two promising practices: cross-sector collaboration and building on existing assets.
Wheels for Wellness is a collaborative effort among:
- A city department: the City of Pittsfield RSVP program (RSVP)
- A community action agency: Berkshire Community Action Council (BCAC)
- A faith-based coalition of advocates: Berkshire Interfaith Organizing (BIO)
- 3 healthcare organizations: Berkshire Fallon Health Collaborative, Community Health Programs, and Berkshire Health Systems.
These organizations worked together to plan and implement the program. RSVP administers the day-to-day operations county-wide; BCAC plays the role of fiscal sponsor for any donations or grants received; and BIO and the healthcare partners assist with recruiting volunteers, outreach to riders, and fundraising. Together, the partner organizations provide the funding that supports this program.
Leveraging the Region’s Assets
When deciding what type of transportation program to pilot, the partners selected a volunteer driver program because it built on what they identified to be the county’s assets: an older population, a high rate of car ownership, and a strong regional culture around looking out for each other. They then looked to existing volunteer driver programs in the region to see how they might scale these local and regional initiatives. A regional volunteer driver program run by an all-volunteer healthcare facility in Southern Berkshire County inspired them to serve the entire county. They then identified the Pittsfield RSVP program as having potential to scale up its operations.
In its first 11 months of operations (May 2021 through March 2022), Wheels for Wellness recruited over 25 volunteer drivers who provided over 1500 rides. They have over 350 riders enrolled in their program, and generally serve approximately 50 riders each month.