“A person should not have to miss a support group or a court appointment for something that’s as fixable as having ride fare,” Alyssa Buccione said. “That’s what this program helps address.”
Buccione is a Mobility Specialist for Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (GLCAP)’s Mobility Management program. Since January 2020, GLCAP Mobility Management has taken part in a Workforce Development Pilot Program that offers transportation assistance to anyone who is making steps to reenter the workforce and is undergoing substance abuse or mental health treatment, ensuring that a lack of transportation access does not inhibit recovery. To date, Mobility Management has helped 148 people in the program’s service area of Erie, Huron, Ottawa, Sandusky, Seneca, and Wood County. The program is funded by the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Mobility Management staff work one-on-one with program participants to provide solutions to their transportation needs. Participants may receive gas cards, vehicle repairs, travel passes, and other assistance so they may travel to counseling sessions, support meetings, court appointments, work, job interviews and other services to help with recovery and workforce reentry.
Inability to access reliable transportation can affect the success of mental health and substance abuse treatment. A 2014 study by University of Kentucky researchers indicated that patients who could not afford transportation or had suspended or revoked driving privileges were less likely to attend treatment sessions. For rural communities in particular, geographic distance between a person’s residence and a treatment facility presented a challenge. Some were able to overcome these obstacles by relying on friends or family members for rides, but this often proved to be a short-term solution.
“When you are relying on other people to have to take you places, it can really hold you back,” Buccione said. “On the other hand, when you have more control over your transportation needs, you have more control over your life.”
Mobility Management has also provided 11 bicycles and helmets to participants through the program.
“Bicycling is cost-effective and a good option for participants who live in relatively close proximity to work and other places they need to go,” added Mobility Management Advocate Kelly Hammond.
In addition to connecting participants with transportation, Mobility Management staff help connect people to other services throughout GLCAP as needed. Staff have referred clients with GLCAP’s utility assistance programs for help with home energy payments, housing programs for help with rent, and Head Start for assistance with preschool and childcare.
“We want to help participants wherever we are able, removing additional stressors so they can focus on treatment, working towards employment, and getting back on their feet,” Hammond said.
Details on GLCAP’s Mobility Management services are available at www.glcap.org/mobilitymanagement.