Amanda Plasencia

Volunteer Driver Program Helps Seniors Meet Transportation Needs

Tanya and Barry may have a 16-year age gap, but there's no age barrier when it comes to their unlikely friendship.

Tanya, an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor, has a vivacious personality — but she needed a little help getting from point A to point B. That's where Barry Shapiro rolls in.

"He always calls me and he says, if you need to go somewhere, call me, I’ll be there," Tanya said.

Through the Jet Express Program by Goodman Jewish Family Services, Barry volunteers to drive Tanya around town. He picks her up on Wednesdays and Fridays and transports her to and from exercise class.

"He picks me up, he brings me there, and I'm happy," Tanya said.

"The jet express does a great job of collecting volunteers to drive these people to places they need to go to, and if they’re fortunate enough as I am to develop the kind of relationship I've developed with Tanya, then all the better," Barry said.

This program is possible thanks to funding by NBCUniversal Foundation's Project Innovation grant. This year the Jet Express Service clocked in over 400 rides.

"What this grant does for us is it helps connect our volunteers and seniors who need help for travel, socialization, to go to the doctor office, to go to Publix -- anything where they normally wouldn’t be able to get out," said Lisa Rahman of Goodman Jewish Family Services.

Thanks to the consistent transportation, Tanya won't miss a step and even gained a lifelong buddy with a mutual love for opera.

"It started from nothing, and then we became friends," she said.

NBC 6 and Telemundo 51, in partnership with the NBCUniversal Foundation, launched the Project Innovation grant challenge, providing eligible nonprofit organizations the opportunity to compete for $225,000 in grants. For more information, click here. The deadline to apply is Friday, Feb. 15, 2019.

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