Local organization helps seniors get around town


CAZENOVIA -- Mary Jane Huffman gets around with a little help from her friends. She had a surgery that keeps her off the road.

"I know they do such an invaluable service for all of us, really."

She's one of the hundred plus seniors in Cazenovia who use the non-profit group Cris-Cat to get around. With or without an injury, volunteer drivers like Bill Hall are there to take you to the library, the grocery store or to the doctor.

"I didn't think there would be many people who needed a drive, boy was I wrong. There are more people here in the Cazenovia area who need assistance then you could possibly imagine."

Patricia Hudelson is being driven to the library by Bill. "I couldn't of had my surgeries if it wasn't for Cris-Cat, because my family lives thousands of miles away."

There are no buses or taxis in Cazenovia, so Hume Laidman and four other volunteers formed Community Resources for Independent Seniors about five years ago to give some seniors their independence back with the help of the Cazenovia Area Transportation branch of the program.

This organization is in the final round of a local competition which rewards groups that help seniors. The 10 thousand dollar award would help buy a used wheelchair accessible van. The winner will be announced on senior day at the state fair.

"I think it'd be particularly critical especially for those people. There is a lady down the street here. She's paid all of this money to get her rides."

They took this idea from a similar system in Skaneateles. Already the concept of volunteer taxi drivers has taken off in other communities.

"Even up in the Adirondacks, in small places," says Laidman.

Cris-Cat has given 300 rides this year, but the numbers could be a little off for the best reason of all.

"We're finding situations where drivers and their passengers have become friends over drives, so they don't bother to report a drive or anything like that."

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