Federal Officials, RIPTA and the City of Pawtucket Welcomed New Community Van for the Leon Mathieu Senior Center 

September 6, 2022

Press Releases

Community Van Will Help Meet Mobility Needs for Older Adults and People with Disabilities

U.S. Senator Jack Reed and Congressman David Cicilline joined the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) and Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien to welcome a new community van to the Leon Mathieu Senior Center. The 16-passenger van will be used to transport older adults and people with disabilities to the Senior Center, medical appointments, food shopping and a variety of other activities. 

The 2022 Turtle Top Ford van, which features a wheelchair lift, was purchased through a grant secured by Senator Jack Reed to help fund transportation needs for Rhode Island’s older adults and people with disabilities. This Community Van Grant has enabled RIPTA to purchase passenger vans on behalf of local municipalities and not-for-profit organizations throughout Rhode Island. The grant program was also supported by additional funding from the Federal Transit Administration. Pawtucket is the first of five Rhode Island communities to receive a van through this grant program.

“I believe every Rhode Islander, especially older adults and people with disabilities, should have access to transportation options,” said Governor McKee.  “This Community Van Program helps to close transportation gaps in our communities.  I applaud our elected officials and RIPTA for working together to improve access to services for our most vulnerable populations.”

This new community van for the Leon Mathieu Senior Center cost $86,619. Recipients are responsible for 100% of ongoing operating expenses for vans awarded through this program.

“I am thrilled to help roll out this new community van.  It’s a vital link that helps seniors access the services they need, engage with their neighbors and friends, and maintain their independence,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee who earmarked the funding that will help provide community vans for Pawtucket, as well as the towns of Westerly, Foster, Cumberland, and the Comprehensive Community Action Program (CCAP).

“The Leon Mathieu Senior Center’s new van, and the others purchased with the help of congressionally-directed and federal funds, will help older adults and those with disabilities get to their medical appointments, grocery stores, and social gatherings,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “Investments like these have a direct impact on the quality of life for Rhode Islanders and are a prime example of the good we can accomplish when local, state, and federal leaders come together. I look forward to our continued work together on behalf of all Rhode Islanders and thank Senator Reed for his leadership in securing this funding.”

“Time and time again, our Congressional Delegation has come through to assist residents, including our seniors, in Pawtucket and across the state,” said Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien. “This new van will be instrumental in providing transportation to our older adults and people with disabilities who no longer drive to assist them in accessing services to meet their daily living needs. I thank RIPTA for their hard work to make this possible and am excited to see the Leon Mathieu Senior Center Director Mary Lou Moran and her team put the van to good use.”

In addition to Pawtucket, the Comprehensive Community Action Program (CCAP) and the municipalities of Westerly, Foster, and Cumberland will each receive a 2022 Turtle Top Ford 12-passenger van with wheelchair lift through this grant program. CCAP plans to utilize its van to transport residents of Harrington Hall, the men’s homeless shelter, to primary care, dental and behavioral health appointments.  All of these appointments are at one of their four community health centers located in Cranston, Coventry and Warwick. Cumberland Senior Center, Westerly Senior Center and the town of Foster will use their vans to help fill transportation gaps for older adults and people with disabilities in their communities. Each of these 12-passenger vans cost $80,483, bringing the total investment for this grant program to $408,551.

“We are grateful to our Congressional Delegation for their unwavering support of public transportation – and that includes supporting local community transportation,” said Scott Avedisian, RIPTA’s Chief Executive Officer. “Affordable senior transportation is critical for maintaining independence and health. RIPTA is proud to help connect local non-profit organizations to these grant opportunities.”

“Pawtucket’s Leon Mathieu Senior Center is so pleased to have been chosen as one of the five Rhode Island communities to receive a new van through the Federal Transit Grant Program,” said Mary Lou Moran, Director, Pawtucket Division of Senior Services, Leon Mathieu Senior Center. “Offering comprehensive transportation services to our older residents is a key component to ensuring that they can access vital services and programs offered at the Senior Center and in the community.  As a direct result, the Senior Center will be able to continue to offer transportation to our most vulnerable residents which will prevent them from becoming socially isolated, enable them to continue to live independently, as well as offering them an opportunity to remain engaged and connected in the community.” 

Click here for community van and press event photos.

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