New vehicle makes seniors trips easier

The first stop on a recent Monday morning was Sofia Yofin's house, just across the way from the Peninsula Jewish Community Center in Belmont.

"This is such a convenience," said Yofin, 63, as she darted through raindrops and climbed aboard the PJCC's brand new white senior van. "Especially because I don't drive and I wouldn't want to sit at a bus stop in this weather."

Hers is an often-heard comment on the van these days. Previously, seniors dependent on the door-to-door transportation service took their chances with the PJCC's aging and undependable vehicle. Now, they ride in style in the new van.

Peninsula JCC officials bought the $73,000 vehicle with a grant made through an anonymous supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. The van seats 28 passengers, eight more than the previous one.

"If we didn't get a grant for a new van, and the older one failed, we'd have no transportation program for our seniors," said Jane Post, assistant director of the PJCC.

"This gift was a godsend," added Susan Ammons, the center's senior services director.

PJCC officials estimate the van will provide more than 6,000 rides annually to seniors wanting to attend programs and services at Peninsula synagogues and at the center. The van often transports seniors to cultural events such as the symphony and the ballet, at other venues on the Peninsula and in San Francisco.

So the van itself becomes a meeting place as riders make on-board connections and forge friendships.

"We talk and swap stories and cooking tips," said 70-year-old Mona Fisher Cohn of Foster City. She noted that she's walked off the van with recipes for blintzes, borsht and Russian cranberry dressing from fellow rider Yofin.

Also, PJCC officials said, the van occasionally stops at a grocery store before dropping seniors at home so they can pick up items without worrying about transportation.

Seniors who ride the van are asked for $2 for each round trip but no one is denied transportation for lack of a donation.

For information about the JCEF, contact its executive director, Phyllis Cook, at (415) 777-0411. To find out more about the PJCC's senior van, call (415) 591-4438.