In the rural town of Wickenburg, Arizona, a significant number of seniors face the challenge of limited transportation options, hindering their ability to remain healthy, happy and independent. With no public transportation available and many seniors unable to afford cars or taxi services, a group of dedicated organizations and volunteers came together to address this issue. The result is the Freedom Express, a community collaboration aimed at providing reliable and free transportation services to seniors aged 60 and above. In this article, we’ll explore how the Freedom Express is transforming the lives of Wickenburg’s seniors and fostering a sense of freedom and autonomy within the community.
Addressing the Problem
Wickenburg is home to 6,681 adults, including 2,969 seniors, many of whom find themselves home-bound or lacking reliable transportation. For those who can no longer drive or afford expensive taxi services, the absence of public transportation exacerbates their isolation and limits access to essential services. Recognizing this pressing issue, the Freedom Express was established in 2012 as a collaborative effort between FSL, Salvation Army, the Town of Wickenburg, Wickenburg Community Services Corporation, and a dedicated team of volunteers.
How Does the Freedom Express Work?
The Freedom Express provides seniors over the age of 60, who are without transportation options, with safe volunteer transit around Wickenburg. It enables them to access medical appointments, grocery shopping, social activities, and other essential services. To qualify for this service, seniors need only to fill out an application form and familiarize themselves with the program’s policies. Once enrolled, they can schedule rides at least 24 hours in advance, with priority given to medical appointments.
The success of the Freedom Express is made possible by the collective efforts of several organizations within the Wickenburg community. Each entity plays a vital role in ensuring the program’s smooth operation:
- Town of Wickenburg (TOW): The town provides insurance coverage for the vans used by the Freedom Express, as well as worker’s compensation for the volunteers. Additionally, the TOW donates annual lottery winnings to support the program. The discounted fuel obtained from the town’s gas pumps helps keep the program running smoothly.
- Salvation Army: The Salvation Army contributes funding each year from bell ringing donations to assist with van leases. They also play a role in volunteer training, working closely with the Freedom Express team.
- Wickenburg Community Services Corp (WCSC): WCSC has provided monetary support for the program, along with successfully securing various grants to launch the initiative. They also generously provide the building in which the Freedom Express operates.
- FSL: FSL manages the Freedom Express logistics and provides the transportation manager. FSL staff secure and train volunteers, schedule the rides, and keep track of important metrics such as these recorded in 2023: volunteers carried 593 riders on 5942 different rides totaling 25,611 miles.
Transforming Lives and Impact
Since its inception, the Freedom Express has made a significant impact on the lives of Wickenburg’s seniors. In 2023 alone, the program logged an impressive 25,611 miles, serving 593 unique clients and providing 5,942 trips. Moreover, the dedication of the program’s seven volunteers resulted in 1,665 hours of invaluable service. By offering reliable and free transportation, the Freedom Express has become a vital lifeline for seniors, allowing them to maintain their independence, stay connected with the community, and access necessary services without the burden of transportation barriers.
The Freedom Express is not just a transportation service; it represents a community’s commitment to its seniors’ well-being. By addressing the transportation challenges faced by home-bound and financially constrained seniors, the program is fostering independence, enhancing quality of life, and ensuring that no senior in Wickenburg is left isolated. With ongoing support from local organizations, volunteers, and generous donations, the Freedom Express continues to create a positive and lasting impact within the community, empowering seniors to live their lives to the fullest.
If you are 60 years or older and live in the Town of Wickenburg, call FSL at 928-684-7894 ext. 422 to schedule a ride today!
These purchases often result in local residents being priced out of starter homes, and cause an increase in rents for suburban families. This investor activity further worsens the housing shortage and hampers efforts to resolve the crisis.
Established in 1974, FSL is dedicated to providing integrated, customized care for those who need it in the Phoenix area. We offer a wide range of home- and community-based services, including:
- Affordable housing options
- Nutritious meal programs
- Health & Wellness programs
- Senior centers
- Recreation programs
- Support for caregivers
These services are designed to enable Arizonans of all ages to live happier, healthier, more independent lives. So, if you or someone you know is struggling to have their needs met, don’t hesitate to contact us and find out how we can help you. And if you’re looking to give back, consider donating or volunteering your time to our mission. We can’t wait to work with you!