Partnership between ElderCare, limo company has Lake County seniors riding in style
When Patricia Page needed a ride to a doctor's appointment earlier this month, she rode in style thanks to a unique partnership between a Lake County nonprofit desperate for drivers and a limo company in need of fares.
Page, a Waukegan resident who receives regular injections from her doctor for macular degeneration, has relied on volunteers from ElderCare Lake County to drive her to and from her appointments for years. But with concerns over COVID-19 in recent months, the number of volunteers able to help out plummeted.
"Most are over the age of 62 so they want to stay put," said the Rev. Jaqueline Lynn, executive director of ElderCare Lake County.
Meanwhile, Chris Ayers, the owner of Waukegan-based A-List Limousine, began reaching out to community organizations to see how her company could be of use during the lockdown.
Lynn and Ayers soon worked out a partnership. Ayers said her drivers have loved working with ElderCare's clients, who come from all over the county.
"Not that we don't love our corporate clients, but when we feel like we're doing something good, we get a warm fuzzy feeling," Ayers said. "And the seniors are so appreciative."
The program is partially funded by the Lake County Community Foundation, which has raised more than $715,000 since establishing the Lake County Community Crisis Relief Fund in late March.
Maggie Morales, the foundation's executive director, said last month the foundation awarded ElderCare with a $10,000 grant for the free limo ride for seniors program.
Lynn said the program has received additional funding from the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County and Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Morales called the agreement between ElderCare and A-List one of the best examples of nonprofits and companies coming together during the COVID-19 crisis.
"I think it's a great testament to public-private partnership," Morales said. "And they are doing it in a safe way."
Ayers said a company staff member takes driver's temperatures before they begin their shifts, and cars are disinfected between trips.
While the company's normal business has started to pick up as restrictions have eased, work outside of ElderCare clients remains slow.
Lynn said she anticipates the partnership with A-List will continue for the rest of the year.
Page, for one, is happy to hear that.
"The car was immaculate and it was all fitted out with plastic barriers and had a container of wipes and hand sanitizer by my seat," she said.
"The driver was very prompt, polite. It was a very successful trip."