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Carroll County Times
Carroll County News

Holiday Hope: Caring Carroll offers free rides and other services to older adults living independently

Mike Rodgers, Caring Carroll executive director, hands packaged meals to Julie Florian, program coordinator, center, and Donna Devilbiss, president of the board of directors. Caring Carroll volunteers distributed Thanksgiving meals to seniors throughout the county on Nov. 23. Caring Carroll connects trained volunteers with older, isolated adults living in the county to assist with non-medical needs.

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series running through December profiling the six local charities that will benefit from the 2022 Holiday Hope campaign, sponsored by The Carroll County Times and the Kahlert Foundation.

The idea for Caring Carroll came in 1999 when several local groups started a phone check program for older, isolated adults who wished to remain living independently in the county.

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The team soon realized many seniors needed more than just a phone call. Today the nonprofit enlists more than 120 volunteers to provide a range of free services, including transportation to appointments, help with errands and even light home repairs.

“One of the biggest benefits for what we do with folks is the companionship,” said Caring Carroll Executive Director Mike Rodgers, who grew up in Westminster. “Our volunteers drive their own vehicles. They pick the person up, they get them to their appointment, they wait for them and then they get them home.”

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This year Caring Carroll is one of six beneficiaries of Holiday Hope, the Times’ annual campaign to drive donations to organizations that help those in need in the Carroll County community.

“Being in Holiday Hope helps us a lot because we don’t get as much publicity as a lot of the other larger nonprofits,” said Rodgers, explaining that money raised helps sponsor meals for seniors and support Caring Carroll’s volunteer team with items such as gas cards. “If it wasn’t for our volunteers, I don’t know what I’d be doing.”

While Rodgers never envisioned Caring Carroll becoming a major transportation provider when he turned the organization into a nonprofit in 2007, rides have grown to become their largest service. So far this year, volunteers have driven more than 25,000 miles to help older adults who have had their licenses taken away, can no longer drive, or can’t afford Uber or Lyft trips.

Filling the transportation gap for older adults is especially important when many of the county’s health services are located in Westminster and public transportation can’t reach large pockets of the senior community.

“A lot of them, especially folks with canes and walkers, cannot navigate the general transit buses,” Rodgers said.

Caring Carroll originally served low-income seniors, but thanks to increased grant funding the organization has expanded to meet the needs of any county resident over the age of 60.

Many of Caring Carroll’s volunteers, a majority of whom are retired themselves, have formed deep relationships with their care receivers and set up weekly calls or in-person check-ins, according to Rodgers. To help combat isolation during the pandemic, the organization started delivering hot meals from local restaurants every few weeks to older adults who aren’t in community housing.

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If there isn’t a service Caring Carrol can provide in-house, Rodgers makes sure care receivers get connected with other nonprofits or government agencies.

“We hate saying no,” he said.

To volunteer or learn more about services offered by Caring Carroll, call 410-775-5596.

To participate in Holiday Hope, donate online at tinyurl.com/42hvad5h or write a check payable to one of the organizations below and send to: Holiday Hope, 332-140 Village Road PM8179, Westminster, MD 21157. Include the form found inside the print edition of The Carroll County Times to receive a thank you card from the organization.

  • Caring Carroll
  • Shepherd’s Staff
  • Access Carroll
  • Carroll County Food Sunday
  • Human Services of Carroll County
  • BridgingLife

The Holiday Hope campaign provides unrestricted funds that organizations can use in areas that need the most assistance.


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