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New United Way program helps those in need get on the road



AUGUSTA, Ga. – For Deborah Grubb and her 26-year-old step-daughter Melissa, leaving home is difficult.

“It’s left her more isolated here because of the pandemic,” Grubb said.

Melissa is disabled, so she’s never been able to drive. It makes it difficult to go to doctor’s appointments, get medicine, or get a job.

“If she was to have access to rides, she would learn to be able to do some of these things for herself rather than depending on us, and then when we’re gone to not having that option available to her,” Grubb said.

United Way of the CSRA is trying to change that with their new Ride United program.

This is how it works: you pull out your phone and call the United Way 211 helpline. They will connect you with a Lyft driver who will pick you up. Tell them you need a ride to a doctor’s appointment, the grocery store, or a job interview. The driver will pull up, you open the door and get in. They will take you where you need to go.

“Last year, our 211 call center received over 20,000 phone calls and then they received 40,000 web inquiries,” United Way President and CEO Brittany Burnett said. “Many of them for people who need transportation assistance.”

Burnett says this program will serve everyone in Richmond and Columbia County.

“We continue to hear over and over that I wish I could get here but I just don’t have a ride or there’s an appointment time and I just can’t make it with the transportation that I do have,” Burnett said. “We knew this was a perfect way we could fill those gaps through the Ride United program.”

United Way wants to make sure these are for important things only

“We really want to ensure that these are rides that are getting them to necessary appointments in the community,” Burnett said.