Headquartered in the St. Mary's Outreach Center at 3900 Roland Ave., AIM was founded not as a traditional senior center, but to provide transportation services and to partner with senior apartment buildings and institutions such as Union Memorial Hospital to conduct classes in areas ranging from the arts to physical exercise.

AIM's transportation services have grown from one minivan in 1973 to three minibuses and two cars now. The agency takes members to the Rotunda from as far away as Ruscombe Gardens and the Park View apartments in Coldspring-Newtown.

Other stops on the Rotunda route include Roland Park Place, Highfield House, Winthrop House and apartment buildings in the 4000 and 4100 blocks of North Charles Street and 3800 and 3900 blocks of Roland Avenue.

AIM also takes seniors from Stadium Place and the York Road corridor to grocery stores in those areas several days a week and picks up individual seniors at their homes or apartment buildings by appointment five days a week. AIM's transportation reach extends to federally subsidized housing and senior centers as far south as Monument Street in downtown Baltimore, Briscoe said.

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AIM plans low-priced trips to malls, the theater and restaurants, and sponsors events like last week's Mardi Gras Day at St. Mary's Outreach Center, a St. Patrick's Day lunch at Ryan's Daughter in Belvedere Square, and a health fair with screenings and flu shots, also at the outreach center.

For the week of March 18, scheduled activities included going to see the Vagabond Players on Sunday, White Marsh Mall on Monday, a Noon Fellowship Lunch & Lecture about the War of 1812 at Second Presbyterian Church, in Guilford, on Wednesday, an areaWal-Mart and an Italian restaurant on Thursday and the Broadway Diner on Friday.

"All of these provide the socialization that is so needed to keep our seniors healthy," Donohue said.

In addition, AIM helps seniors with homeowners tax credit information and renters' credits, distributes farmers' market coupons subsidized by the Maryland Department of Agriculture for low-income seniors, and provides energy, legal and benefits assistance.

And AIM strikes partnerships with groups such as the Senior Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) to deliver fresh produce to senior apartment buildings, and with Kathryn's Kloset, to give thousands of gallons of laundry detergent and cleaning supplies to seniors.

AIM also has partnerships with the Maryland Transit Administration, the Govans Ecumenical Development Corp., or GEDCO, and Civic Works, among others.

The most recent program already in effect is the just-started Pet Pantry Project. AIM is targeting schools in the area to help by donating dog and cat food and cat litter for the many seniors who have pets in their apartments, Briscoe and Donohue said.

All of the programs are part of an effort to increase AIM's community outreach.

"We're trying to become more of a face in north Baltimore," Briscoe said.

Everybody on the bus

But the program that has seniors talking these days is the planned expansion of the Rotunda shuttle — a service that Briscoe said will be available to nonmembers too.

"Obviously, there's a lot of buzz," Briscoe said. She is grateful for Giant's commitment, saying, "Sometimes corporate doesn't see the grass roots."

The grass roots on March 15 were seniors quickly filling Allender's 10-seat minibus.

"I'm exploring alternative forms of transportation as I get older," said a Highfield House resident, whose car was in the body shop after an accident. She would not give her name.

Martha Ann Peters, a resident of Winthrop House, wasn't really going to the Rotunda. She was just along for the ride.

"I like to get out," Peters said.

"I wouldn't get to the store if I had to walk," said Dorothy Green, of Park View Apartments.

"I want Giant to look out for us," said Rosalee Toogood, of Ruscombe Gardens.

Green figures she's good for Giant's business.

"They want people to come there," she said.