Celebrating the official launch of Rides to Wellness by GLTA were (l-r) Megan Murphy of the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Kathy Dickens of Four County Community Foundation, Veronica Marchese of the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Stephanie Hamilton and Kelly Bales of GLTA, Nancy Boxey of the Lapeer County Community Foundation, Kim Hebberd of the United Way of Lapeer County and Traci Pewinski of GLTA.
Depending on one’s circumstances, getting from point A to point B can be complicated in rural communities, especially for anyone who doesn’t have a vehicle or isn’t able to drive. Transportation barriers can impact a person’s day-to-day needs, particularly those related to personal wellness, but a new Lapeer County program, Rides to Wellness by GLTA, seeks to help residents overcome those mobility challenges and access the goods and services that benefit their health.
The new program was officially celebrated at a March 6 ribbon cutting ceremony at the Imlay City Senior Center. In addition to enjoying cake and punch, guests had the opportunity to see one of two designated Rides to Wellness vehicles and speak to representatives from the Greater Lapeer Transportation Authority (GLTA) about this premium transportation service.
Rides to Wellness by GLTA is an easy-to-use service that’s designed to transport Lapeer County residents to medical and health-related appointments, plus other locations that foster wellness such as pharmacies, grocery stores, farmers markets and various community resources.
“This service is open to everybody but we anticipate it will likely be used the most by senior citizens,” said Kelly Bales, GLTA Executive Director.
Rides to Wellness by GLTA is a premium service that will utilize two passenger vehicles that can take an individual and their family members to locations both in and outside of Lapeer County.
“Rides to Wellness by GLTA will allow someone a comfortable ride home from a dialysis appointment or similar medical procedures,” Bales said.
The new service comes with a one-way fee of $15 in Lapeer County with a higher fee for out-of-county rides but Bales notes that financial assistance is often available and she encourages residents to reach out to GLTA’s Mobility Coordinator Stephanie Hamilton to relay their needs and discuss their options. Funding assistance for trip costs has been provided by the Michigan Transportation Connection.
In addition to working with individuals, Bales said Rides to Wellness by GLTA hopes to partner with agencies and health providers who would like to help their clients and patients attend important appointments either on a case-by-case basis or through a retainer agreement.
Rides to Wellness by GLTA drivers will be GLTA staff who have been fully-trained and screened as part of the authority’s hiring process.
Also in attendance at Monday’s ribbon cutting were participants in a Lapeer County transportation coalition who have examined public transportation needs within the community over a period of several years. The coalition featured participants from state, county and local levels of government, plus those from local organizations and public service providers (See full list of participants at end of this release) who took part in meetings and lent their expertise on the subject of public transportation.
Those coalition members who contributed significant time and funding toward the initiative include Four County Community Foundation, Lapeer County Community Foundation and United Way of Lapeer County who all gave matching grant dollars to help purchase the Rides to Wellness by GLTA vehicles.
A timeline of events follows below:
- Four County Community Foundation (4CCF) began addressing transportation needs in Lapeer County, particularly among senior citizens in the Imlay City and Almont areas, after it was identified in a 2019 community needs assessment. The Foundation invited community stakeholders to discuss the situation and participants concluded that a plan was needed.
- 4CCF Executive Director Kathy Dickens applied for and was awarded a $96,000-plus Michigan Health Endowment Collaborate Grant and with it the coalition was able to hire a consultant, RLS & Associates, to coordinate community input meetings and help create the plan. In the fall of 2021, those meetings were held at locations across Lapeer County and feedback from those sessions indicated that transportation to medical appointments was the most critical need.
- In 2022, Dickens was successful in the foundation’s application to the United States Department of Agriculture for a Micro Transit Pilot Grant. Those dollars—$70,000—plus matching funds of $20,000 each contributed by 4CCF, Lapeer County Community Foundation and United Way of Lapeer County, allowed GLTA to purchase two vehicles for the Rides to Wellness by GLTA service.
For more information about Rides to Wellness by GLTA, contact Stephanie Hamilton at (810) 664-4566, ext. 206 or visit go-glta.org.
Participants in the Lapeer County Transportation Coalition include:
- Almont Township
- Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan
- City of Imlay City
- City of Lapeer
- Cummings Chiropractic LLC
- Disability Network of Eastern Michigan
- Four County Community Foundation (4CCF)
- Easter Seals
- Greater Lapeer Transportation Authority (GLTA)
- Hamilton Community Health Network
- Human Development Commission
- Hispanic Service Center
- Lapeer County Community Foundation (LCCF)
- Lapeer County Community Mental Health
- Lapeer County EMS
- Lapeer County Health Department
- Lapeer County Senior Programs
- Lapeer County Veteran Affairs
- McLaren Lapeer Region Hospital
- Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
- Michigan Health Endowment Fund
- Michigan Transportation Connection
- United Way of Lapeer County
- RLS & Associates
- STAR Transportation
- Thumb Area Psychological Services
- Trinity Health
- Tri-County Bank
- Tuscola Intermediate School District
- Valley Area Agency on Aging