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News Release
Charlie Morris helps Waldo Johnson to the car so he can get to his volunteer gig.
Charlie Morris helps Waldo Johnson to the car so he can get to his volunteer gig.
Local Nonprofit Celebrates 30 Years: Volunteer Driver Shares Years of Experience (Photo) - 11/13/17

Ride Connection is about to hit a major milestone by celebrating 30 years of helping get people where they need to go in the Portland area.

The nonprofit provides accessible transportation to seniors and people with disabilities. Rides are given by paid and volunteer drivers. Charlie Morris is a volunteer driver who has been giving his time behind the wheel for 26 years.

Over the past two decades he's seen a lot of change in Portland like new developments and worsening traffic, but one thing remains constant: Ride Connection volunteers are always needed and their riders are incredibly appreciative. It's the camaraderie between him and his riders that keeps Charlie volunteering.

Charlie started volunteering in 1993, back when Ride Connection was providing around 15,000 rides a year. Now they give over half a million rides each year.

He remembers helping a gentleman by giving him rides to see his wife in a care facility. "They were usually both asleep when I went to pick him up," says Charlie, "I think they still enjoyed their time together."

Recently, he experienced the loss of a longtime rider who had become a friend over the years. Waldo Johnson had just turned 104 before he passed away. "Part of this job is saying goodbye every once and a while. It's tough, but I'm happy to know that I helped Waldo." For years Charlie brought Waldo to and from a Meals on Wheels site where he volunteered twice a week. "I like that I can use my time to help people. It's a way for them to get out and have experiences."

See More: Video of Waldo and Charlie (2015) [link: goo.gl/wK46nv]

In addition to providing door-to-door service like the rides Charlie provides, Ride Connection gets people where they need to go by offering options like transit training and shuttles. The organization relies heavily on state and federal transit funding, but has spent the last three years working to change that.

In 2015 they set an ambitious goal to raise $1 million in the three years leading up to Ride Connection's 30th anniversary. This nearly triples their annual fundraising totals from previous years. They have raised $800,000 to date from individuals, corporations and foundations, well on their way to reaching their goal by June 30, 2018.

"More and more, individuals in our region see transportation as a critical need, especially for people with disabilities and older adults who have few or no other options," says Elaine Wells, Executive Director. "That's good news for us because with additional funding we can help more people in need."

For more please visit www.rideconnection.org.

Photos, interviews and video available upon request.

View more news releases from Ride Connection.