Just a little over a year ago, the City of West Columbia, SC formally thanked Reverend Kenneth Taylor for the tireless service he gives to his neighbors and the faith community. Reverend Taylor is the Pastor for Turner Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in West Columbia, SC and has been guiding ministries that strengthen education, public health, and senior services since answering his call to ministry in 1995.
In gratitude, the Mayor and City Council of West Columbia thanked Rev. Taylor for his “positive influence, leadership, and dedication to the City of West Columbia and its citizens.” Transportation for seniors in South Carolina has always been a priority for Governor Henry McMaster. Shortly after the June 2019 resolution, Rev. Taylor attended the South Carolina Department on Aging’s “Faith and Community: United to Serve” symposium, which gathered community groups and faith leaders from all over South Carolina in an effort to meet the needs of seniors and their families. Among other works, Rev. Taylor leads the Senior Rides of
Lexington program, a 501(c)(3), volunteer-driven transportation provider for seniors in Lexington County, South Carolina.
Feonix - Mobility Rising also attended the symposium and found synergy with the work that Rev. Taylor and Senior Rides are doing in the community. With the support of the South Carolina Department on Aging, the two groups started work right away on a partnership between Feonix and Senior Rides program to amplify their ability to serve the community together.
Feonix can provide the innovation and infrastructure to power a volunteer-led transportation network. Through our supportive volunteer onboarding program to our online volunteer training system, Feonix can further the Senior Rides mission. Rev. Taylor provides deep roots in the community, a large network of supporters, and a following of committed people guided by faith to eliminate suffering in the community. Rev. Taylor and the Senior Rides volunteers literally answer calls and prayers in times of need.
According to Kay Hightower, Program Manager at the South Carolina Department on Aging, “over one-third of the population in Richland and Lexington Counties rely solely on Social Security, which is often as little as $710 per month, to pay their bills”. Easing the burden of transportation for senior citizens on a fixed income is crucial to health and happiness. Recently, a volunteer commented on the needs of the area and the work of Senior Rides, “I have seen a number of needs for people living on the edge who struggle to get to essential services... We forget that seniors don’t just need access to doctor’s appointments. They also need quality of life – church, [a ride to the] hospital to visit a friend or relative, a movie with their grandchildren. Transportation goes beyond just surviving.”
Feonix and Rev. Taylor share a vision of a program that will offer opportunities to people who are called to volunteer for others in need. The collaboration provides the opportunity for the two organizations to form a team working toward a common goal. In short, the relationship will empower the already dedicated helpers. The partnership between Feonix and Senior Rides will go a long way to recruit and deploy volunteer drivers to support the older adult population, which is expected to double by 2030, according to the South Carolina Department of Aging.
As Senior Rides and Feonix continue to develop their partnership, Rev. Taylor recently approached the West Columbia City Council with a request for a vote of confidence in their work. Feonix believes, and Rev. Taylor has proven, that local support is imperative for the success of the project. Almost one year after meeting, Rev. Taylor and Feonix received words of support from members of the Council. With that blessing, the Senior Rides program is poised to grow in scope and service.
Funding and infrastructure give metropolitan areas an advantage when it comes to launching new technology. But what about our rural areas and small towns? This summer, Feonix Executive Director, Valerie Lefler presented to the Nebraska Department of Transportation and session registrants about the possibilities of introducing Autonomous Vehicles (AV) in rural communities. By widening our lens on AV, we see that the need and resources for the future of transportation are actually rooted in rural America.
We live with a digital divide. For example, high-speed internet - widely available in cities, far less so in small towns and remote areas. As Valerie’s presentation highlighted, there are many reasons to make sure that outlying communities are not overlooked while advancing transportation technology. Twenty percent of the United States population lives in rural areas (Arcury, et al., 2005), meaning that we need to consider the role transportation plays in the health, education, and employment of one-in-five Americans.
For the NDOT Future Forum, Valerie shared statistics that illustrate transportation needs in multiple communities and demographics. For example, 18% of children living in the rural United States do not have a routine medical provider, as opposed to 9% of children who live in larger cities. Equally compelling data is available regarding mobility access for veterans, seniors, persons who are chronically ill, and people with low income.
Valerie’s presentation highlighted future solutions for these disparities. Simulations showing an autonomous shuttle operating in rural areas of Japan as well as an AV utilizing GPS on unmapped US roads give a view of how AV can shorten the distance between need and solution for people living in low-density areas. Additionally, and no less important, Valerie discussed that the agricultural community is an early leader in autonomous technology.
By introducing smart, autonomous mobility options in rural areas, we have the potential to create a web of lifelines between individuals and communities. When we mobilize people, we also mobilize resources, ideas, and creativity. Life-sustaining transportation technologies can lead to life-sustaining partnerships. Partner with Feonix to eliminate transport inequality. Click below to contact us and learn about all the ways you can join our cause!
For Stephen Pina, family, community, relationships, and service provide the undercurrent for his work as a Feonix Wellness Driver. Nationally trained as a non-emergency medical transportation provider, Stephen has more than 15 years of experience helping people get to-and-from the places that keep them healthy. When he is not supporting others through his work with Feonix, Stephen volunteers as a youth volleyball coach and at BBQ fundraisers. Stephen is a fierce fan of his family, attending every volleyball, basketball, and kickball game he can to cheer them on as they shine. Through the investment of his time, Stephen strengthens his family and his community.
Because of Stephen’s commitment to safety and service, riders are met by an advocate who shows up on time with a positive attitude and a heart open to connection. When asked about his favorite experience with Feonix, Stephen shares a story of a ride to San Antonio filled with conversation about heritage and culture. Stephen appreciates passengers as much as they appreciate him. For Stephen, passengers are “a blessing to be around.”
Stephen’s work also includes delivery service, as Feonix Wellness offers prescription delivery to area residents who would otherwise be without life-sustaining medication. A testimony to “being the change,” Stephen Pina is a lifeline, an advocate, and a friend… a Feonix Wellness Driver.
Collaboration and innovation are two of our core values. We are thrilled to join the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) Alliance, a public-private partnership with 100 members working together to deploy Mobility as a Service in communities around the world.
As MaaS Alliance evolves into the leading global partnership guiding the mobility industry, they are active in developed regions as well as a growing presence in emerging markets for mobility. Members of the Feonix - Mobility Rising Leadership Team and Board of Directors will contribute to three working groups implementing MaaS Alliance key activities and strategies.
Shout out to the following Feonix team members on their forthcoming contributions to MaaS Alliance!
In coming months, MaaS Alliance will enjoy an on-line 2020 Summit and workshop themes to include: Tools for Cities, MaaS Market Playbook, and an Innovation Lab session. Follow Feonix and MaaS Alliance to stay up-to-date on ongoing successes!
Help us launch the force of Freedom Drivers in our Dallas community! Feonix is delighted to be a part of this year’s North Texas Giving Day on September 17, 2020. This is the 12th annual North Texas Giving Day, which is a movement to ignite community giving of time and donations in the Dallas area. As Feonix launches in the Dallas area, we will utilize funds raised to provide rides for senior citizens, veterans, and others who cannot cover the cost of transportation to meet their wellness needs. Supporting Feonix through North Texas Giving Day is easy. Visit the North Texas Giving Day website, early giving is open now!