Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Councilman Paul Vallone and the first senior to receive a ride under the April pilot program

A northeast Queens lawmaker’s initiative giving seniors free access to transportation has expanded.

Councilman Paul Vallone and Selfhelp Community Services announced that their transportation program — which was previously only offered to seniors in northeast Queens — will open up to seniors across the borough. The program will officially launch on Jan. 2.

In the new year, seniors throughout Queens can call the Clearview Senior Center at 718-224-7888 from 9 a.m. to noon to schedule their rides to and from medical appointments. Rides are limited to two long distance or four local trips a month per person.

The expansion was made possible by a $10,000 grant awarded to Selfhelp Community Services by the City Council’s Queens Delegation. The program will conclude at the end of the grant funding.

The transportation program first launched in northeast Queens with a pilot in April, followed by a full launch in November. Funded by Vallone, it allowed seniors living in the 19th City Council District, which covers sections of Flushing, Whitestone, College Point, Douglaston and Bayside, to schedule rides to and from medical appointments through the Bayside Selfhelp Clearview Senior Center.

Queens seniors face a lack of affordable and reliable transportation options, the councilman noted.

“When I launched this program I hoped that it would grow and expand beyond just northeast Queens, and now that is starting to become a reality,” Vallone said. “Seniors in our city, many of who live on fixed incomes, are already faced with enough hardships such as rising property taxes, costs of living and stagnant funding for critical services. The last thing they should have to worry about is how they’re going to get to the doctor.”

Selfhelp, in partnership with Vallone, also recently secured a $15,000 grant to expand the Virtual Senior Center (VSC) to the entire borough. The program allows home-bound older adults to connect with the larger community using technology.

Seniors can take interactive, real-time classes in topics ranging from art history to weight training. Over 40 classes are typically offered per week in English, Mandarin, Korean, and Russian.

Find out if you or someone you know is eligible for VCS by calling 718-559-4460.

“Continued support from government is key to enabling older New Yorkers to stay connected to the communities they call home,” said Sandy Myers, vice president of external relations and communications for Selfhelp Community Services. “Our transportation program, in partnership with Four Two’s, will help address one of the most significant challenges faced by older residents of Queens: the lack of accessible and reliable transportation in parts of our city.”

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