Ride Connection

Winner: Honoring Our Elders
Awarded to an organization that serves and celebrates the oldest and wisest people in our community.

Few cities have received more accolades for their innovative public transportation systems than Portland. Yet thousands of our citizens cannot easily access the buses, trains, and streetcars that many of us use on a daily basis—for example, the 85-year-old living in North Portland who’s never used TriMet and has a doctor’s appointment in West Linn; the longtime bus rider who discovers at age 78 that his sight is failing and he can no longer navigate his weekend errands; or someone like Evelyn Riggs, a 90-year-old Gresham woman who lives alone and volunteers at a senior center every weekday morning, but has no one to drive her there.

‘We all deserve access to quality transportation, regardless of age or … where we live.’

For the past 20 years, Ride Connection has provided free transportation to seniors like Riggs. Between 1998 and 2007, the number of rides grew from 11,000 to more than 371,000. With 100 buses and vans, and a team of staff and volunteers, Ride Connection plucks seniors from their isolation, connects them with friends and family, assures them access to medical care, and even allows them simple pleasures such as getting their hair done on a Saturday afternoon.

James Uyeda, the organization’s development manager, says that as more seniors stop driving or taking the bus, Ride Connection’s role becomes more vital: “We all deserve access to quality transportation, regardless of age or health or where we live.” —SW Contact: 503-528-1720; rideconnection.org