May 11, 2014 at 10:33 AM
SUMMIT, NJ - The Junior League of Summit (JLS) has contributed $12,000 to help support Summit’s senior transportation system, Big Wheel, a service of Senior Connections, Inc. which is well-underway with fundraising efforts in order to sustain its service and uphold its primary mission of keeping Summit’s seniors connected.
Big Wheel was initially owned and operated by the JLS under the name of Senior Connections, Inc. The JLS is currently supporting several causes throughout the City of Summit, and often becomes involved with initiatives and institutions which create healthier and more sustainable communities.
Big Wheel has been a part of the Summit scene for more than a quarter century. From the beginning, its mission has been to keep seniors connected with the greater community, bringing them to and from local events, shopping destinations, and various other local establishments. The service is very user-friendly, often picking up, and dropping off, seniors directly at their front doorstops.
In 2011, the Summit Department of Community Programs (DCP) took over the operation and, in recent months, has worked alongside the Senior Connections Bus Advisory Board to create a necessary fundraising campaign. Senior Connections, Inc. has redeveloped its brand with a new name, Big Wheel, as well as a new logo and tagline in order to capture public attention and support.
Over the past few months, the Senior Connections Board has been working closely with DCP staff members and Advisory Board members in order to raise awareness about Big Wheel. Many residents are unaware this type of service is available for seniors, or that it is comes at absolutely no cost to the rider. Big Wheel, which operates as a non-profit organization, is mainly funded from donations and grants. Since the DCP took over the operation, they have become responsible for all operational costs including maintenance fees, insurance, salaries and wages, and even gas expenditures. Annually, it takes approximately $60,000 to keep the bus running.
Miles MacMahon, President of the Senior Connections Advisory Board, adamantly believes in the importance of keeping seniors connected with the overall community. He also strives, along with members of his board, to maintain the utmost level of service for riders. The board is currently soliciting suggestions from riders to add destinations to the current service route. Not only are these types of suggestions taken into consideration, but they oftentimes become implemented as well. In years past, riders have enjoyed trips to various locations within neighboring communities including The Christmas Tree Shop, Trader Joe’s Supermarket, Walmart, and Target.
Even with the JLS contribution, a significant portion of funds still need to be raised. The future of the Big Wheel program is at risk, and The Senior Connections Advisory Board are asking residents to “Get On Board” with Big Wheel by Donating online today. To learn more about Big Wheel, A Service of Senior Connections, Inc., please visit www.cityofsummit.org/BigWheel, or call the Summit Department of Community Programs at 908 / 277-2932. To learn more about the Junior League of Summit, please visit .jlsummit.org/.