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NORMAL — The growing demand for transportation for older adults with medical needs in McLean County is reflected by Faith in Action placing a temporary hold on new care receivers for the second time in a year.

"I hope that this waiting list only lasts six to 10 weeks," Faith in Action Executive Director Doretta Herr said Monday. "We need at least 15 to 20 (additional) volunteers before we can consider lifting the waiting list."

"It's not that we're struggling to recruit volunteers but we're having trouble keeping up with the demand," she said.

So far this year, Faith in Action has recruited 100 new volunteers, meaning the organization has 513 volunteers who drive people age 60 and older to medical appointments and a limited number of visits to grocery stores and other appointments, Herr said.

But the number of care receivers has grown by 189 this year, meaning the volunteers provide rides to 689 older adults with medical needs, Herr said.

Herr noticed that the list of care receivers who needed rides was getting long but she didn't want to overburden volunteers. So she decided to put a temporary hold on approving new care receivers until more volunteers can be recruited and trained.

When the same thing happened last October, she was able to recruit and train enough additional volunteers to lift the ban in December.

Older adults in need in Bloomington-Normal, Heyworth, Hudson and Towanda may be placed on a waiting list by going to www.bnfia.org or by calling 309-827-7780. Potential volunteers also may get more information at that address and phone number.

As of Monday afternoon, 15 people were on the waiting list, she said.

In addition to the temporary hold, Faith in Action will be limiting the number of non-medical and non-supermarket transports to places such as churches, governmental agencies and human services organizations.

"Medical transportation always has been our priority," she said. "We struggled with this (reduction) because our mission is to support seniors in the home to keep them as independent as possible."

While the reduction saddens Herr, she said it's necessary for the organization to stay vibrant while keeping up with the demand.

Faith in Action receives no state or federal money, relying on donations — especially from church congregations.

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Contact Paul Swiech at (309) 820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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Health Reporter

Health reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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