The idea for ITNCentralCT began in West Hartford in 2006 when Deputy Mayor Scott Slifka was watching a documentary featuring ITNAmerica founder Katherine Freund. Freund's organization, The Independent Transportation Network®, sounded like a potential solution to the town's transportation needs, so Slifka picked up the phone and called Mayor Jonathan Harris, and the wheels started turning.
That conversation grew into what eventually became a statewide initiative, the first in the country, to fund local groups interested in building local ITN affiliates.
When Linda Worden, former Executive Director of Middletown's St. Luke's Eldercare Solutions of Central Connecticut, learned of the planning grant offered through the Department of Social Services, she applied. The result was the creation of ITNCentralCT, an independent non-profit agency dedicated to providing transportation, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, to anyone over 60 and those with visual impairments.
"This is the answer to years of research on transportation needs for seniors in Middlesex County," said Judith Felton, coordinator of the Human Services Program at Middlesex Community College and co-chair of the new ITNCentralCT board of directors.
"This program complements all of the other service organizations in the community that work to improve opportunities for older adults," Felton said. "ITN is working collaboratively with these agencies while filling a real gap by offering a more individualized service that gives older adults the same freedom and spontaneity they once had as drivers."
The board of directors of ITNCentralCT was formed in April 2007. A year of hard work culminated in a public meeting in Middletown on behalf of seniors and the visually impaired. The event included speakers from throughout the area: Congressional Aide of Rosa DeLauro, Allison Dodge; State Senators Jonathan Harris and Paul Doyle; ITNAmerica founder Katherine Freund; State Representative Ray Kalenowski; Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano; Wethersfield Town Manager Bonnie Therrien; and Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield.
The Community Champions who contributed funds required to complete the planning year were recognized, including The Middlesex United Way, Aetna Corporation, the City of Middletown Department of Health, Middlesex Hospital, and the Town of Wethersfield.
After over a year of unscheduled stops, detours, and assorted roadblocks, new (volunteer) Executive Director G. W. Frazier reports that ITNCentralCT is ready to roll. "Our soft launch is in ‘game on’ status, and we plan to make our June 2009 fundraiser, Walk For Rides, into a huge all-day downtown event in Middletown, complete with music, food, and lots of prizes."
To find out how you can support the nonprofit service by becoming a member, volunteering, donating a vehicle or money or being a voice for change, please call G.W. at 861-521-3600 or send an email to info@ITNCentralCT.org.
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