The pilot project, which started in August 2011, focused on providing transportation to behavioral-health-related appointments for people in need. The public bus route that served Southeastern Beahavioral Health Center was eliminated at that time, so volunteer drivers from Peace Lutheran, St. Mark's Lutheran and First Lutheran churches along with Project CAR (a transportation program already in place in the community) began transporting people to and from appointments at Behavioral Health with 75 round-trip rides provided in a six month period.
Healthy Rides Project to Expand
The Charis Ministry Partners Board recently approved plans to expand the transportation ministry to those in need of transportation to any type of medical appointment, not just behavioral health, in cooperation with Project CAR. Those requesting rides must be referred by an authorized person, in most cases a parish nurse or similarly-appointed individual from a participating congregation with appointments made several days in advance.
How can you help?
Increased involvement from Charis Ministry Partners congregations is needed. The need for volunteer drivers for Project CAR is expected to increase in 2012. Volunteers can choose a day each month to drive, specifying morning or afternoon. Those willing to volunteer are asked to complete a volunteer form available from Project CAR at (605) 332-2777.
How is Healthy Rides Funded?
A grant from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans has covered the cost of the Healthy Rides program thus far. All clients ride free, and Charis Ministry Parnters pays Project CAR $7 for each round-trip to cover transportation costs. Individuals are encouraged to donate money to Charis Ministry Partners through their congregation to help cover the cost of the additional rides.
Who is Charis Ministry Partners?
Charis Ministry Partners consists of the following congregations: Augustana Lutheran Church, Our Savior's Lutheran Church, East Side Lutheran Church, Messiah New Hope Lutheran Church, First Lutheran Church, Peace Lutheran Church, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Renner Lutheran Church, Grace Lutheran Church, Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, St. John Lutheran Church and West Nidaros Lutheran Church. Charis Ministry Partners also oversees the Food to You Mobile Food Pantry.