Tel-A-Ride Paratransit Service Proves Itself Critical During Covid-19
NORTH CHARLESTON (May 12, 2020) – The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) recently partnered with a local church to deliver much-needed groceries to a host of blind and visually impaired residents in the Charleston area.
Joining with Calvary Lutheran Church in West Ashley, CARTA provided two Tel-A-Ride paratransit vans as delivery vehicles for the Friday afternoon support.
“We began a ministry with the help of a group of blind residents in the area and called it Friends of Bartimaeus. We deliver groceries on the last Friday of the month to the blind and visually impaired in Charleston-North Charleston section of the Lowcountry,” said Pastor Edward Grant, pastor emeritus at Calvary Lutheran Church. “Their checks run out at the end of the month, which means their groceries run out as well, so having CARTA assist us in this effort is a blessing as we help get food to the people that needed it the most right now.”
The Tel-A-Ride driver teams met at Calvary Lutheran Church Friday afternoon where church staff helped load the vans with more than 20 bags of groceries from the church’s food bank to distribute.
Donna Flickenger, a member at Calvary Lutheran Church in charge of coordinating the food packaging, said that without the Tel-A-Ride support, some people would go uncared for.
Flickenger recalls recently speaking with a grocery recipient who spoke about why the deliveries were so important.
“You are a godsend. When you didn’t deliver groceries a month ago, I was down to eating a teaspoon of peanut butter a day until I could get groceries,” Flickenger said of the woman giving her thanks. “So what we’re doing really shows the importance, especially at this time in our history.”
After loading, the teams departed in two separate directions to deliver the goods.
At the different homes, Grant met with the recipients to drop off the groceries, with many of them expressing gratitude to both the church and CARTA for being able to provide the important food items.
“If it wasn’t for the church, I would be paying for Tel-A-Ride to go out and get groceries,’ said Valeria Coleman, a Friends of Bartimaeus group member and food recipient. “I live alone, and I’m visually impaired, and Tel-A-Ride is my sole source of transportation, so if it weren’t for you nice folks, I’d have to find a different way to go out and get it.”
CARTA Board Chairman Mike Seekings considered this opportunity to work with the church a win-win all around.
“It’s an honor to have a great partner such as Calvary Lutheran Church to serve the community within this capacity,” Seekings said. “We were able to provide critical transport for the groceries that otherwise may not have gotten to these residents. CARTA’s mission is to deliver quality, affordable transit services that link people, jobs and communities in the most efficient manner possible, and we accomplished that and more today.”