IN THE NEWS: All aboard for the senior center

Shani McManus

South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscription required)

Jun 26, 2015

Passengers Ronald and Elaine Marcovitz of Delray Beach try out JFS’ Rales Rides, bus service that takes them to the Weisman Center.

The good news for local seniors wanting to attend the many activities and events at the Shirley & Barton Weisman Delray Community Center, but can't, due to lack of transportation, is that they now have "wheels."

Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS) recently introduced "Rales Rides," that provides bus service for residents in the area without the ability to currently attend programs and events at the Shirley & Barton Weisman Delray Community Center. The Community Center Van Access Program is supplying two buses that will make scheduled rounds of senior developments within the surrounding area of the Weisman Center, which is located at 7091 W. Atlantic Ave.

Danielle Hartman, JFS president and CEO, said the new service will provide much needed access to the center, especially for disabled seniors.

"The wheelchair accessible buses enable frail, disabled, and otherwise homebound seniors to access numerous programs and services at one location including social, health and wellness, and education opportunities," she said.

"Through available case management services at the Weisman Center, seniors can be connected to other JFS services including food and financial assistance, counseling and mental health services, and volunteer opportunities," she noted. "There is no other agency in Palm Beach County that provides this full complement of services at one site."

Rales Rides is already making an impact on area seniors. Mildred Kleid of Boca Raton said the new bus service has made a difference in her life.

"Riding the bus to the Weisman Center for the Feldman Family Diamond Club means a whole new world to me," she said."The bus was beautiful and the driver, Stephanie, was so helpful."

In order to operate the program with Risa Demato, vice president of the Weisman Center, JFS hired Stephanie Haywood as transportation coordinator and driver, and Leslie Deutscher as an additional driver.

The buses were obtained through a grant from the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority through the Florida Department of Transportation New Freedoms grant program with matching funds provided by Boca Raton based Hands On Tzedakah (HOT), a JFS funding partner.

Phyllis Fleisher of Delray Beach is another new Rales Rides passenger. She said the service has opened a "new world" for her.

"Getting picked up by the Rales Rides bus is like opening up a world to a person who can't get out much," she said. "It is the only place I can get to without a problem. I can see new people. Diamond Club is one of the friendliest places you can go to."

Seniors who are interested in the service should call JFS at 561-852-3333 and request an information packet. Once the forms are processed, a member of the Rales Rides staff will call to confirm ridership.

Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS) provides help, hope and humanity through a comprehensive range of programs and services which support people of all ages and beliefs. With locations in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, JFS programs and services include food and financial assistance, senior services, vocational training, counseling and mental health services and many volunteer opportunities. Funding is provided by private and corporate support, grants, special events and individuals who reach thousands in need each year. For more information about JFS volunteer opportunities and services for seniors, contact 561-852-3333. Learn more at www.ralesjfs.org.

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