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No car, no care: how a Duval County senior used United Way 211 to regain access to health care

September 11, 2020

Suffering from kidney failure and without transportation to his medical appointment, Stephen* found himself in dire need of assistance.

Stephen, a senior living in Duval County and veteran of the Vietnam War, had an upcoming surgical appointment he would not be able to attend because he did not have the resources needed to get there. He was without reliable, safe, convenient transportation, which hindered his ability to access the health care he needed.

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Panicked by his situation, Stephen called United Way 211, a 24/7 information and referral service hotline that offers a specialized case management initiative for veterans called Mission United. He spoke with a compassionate, highly trained specialist who has able to connect him with transportation to his surgical appointment through Ride United.

Ride United, currently in its pilot phase, is an initiative through United Way Worldwide and 12 local United Way markets that helps those in need overcome transportation barriers and get to job interviews, attend critical medical appointments, access grocery stores and more. This year, the program has expanded to include delivery of food and household goods.

“In partnership with United Way Worldwide and Lyft we have been able to assist over 800 individuals with rides to job interviews, medical appointments, and access to food,” said Donald Earl, director of 211 at United Way of Northeast Florida in August 2020.

After the surgery, Stephen called into 211 to report he was overjoyed with the Ride United program, stating the drivers were very helpful and nice. He was thankful United Way had a great program that helped him in his time of need.

“As a result of these rides, individuals have secured employment, accessed food and, many like Stephen, received critical life-changing medical care,” Earl said. “Transportation remains a critical need within our communities, and it is through such partnerships that United Way 211 is providing much needed relief.”

Stephen’s story is just one example of the hundreds of thousands of lives changed by United Way of Northeast Florida, its partners, and initiatives like Mission United and Ride United every year.

United Way 211 is committed to being the first, most essential resource to anyone who needs help. To learn more about the services provided by 211, visit unitedwaynefl.org/get-help. Visit unitedwaynefl.org/give to change a life like Stephen’s now.

*The name Stephen is a pseudonym used to protect the identity of the 211 caller.