• GatewayITN | By Carol Enright

    Riders say using ITNGateway is like riding with a friend

  • When Joan Cassell heard that a new transportation service for seniors was operating in her neighborhood, the 88-year-old signed up for it immediately. Now, she’s a regular rider of ITNGateway, which she uses to attends exercise classes two times a week and run errands.  

    Cassell described a recent trip.

    “I dropped something off at the dry cleaner, then I went to Trader Joe’s, then I went to Dierbergs and then home,” she says, “which is what I would have done when I had a car but is very hard to do with Uber and Lift.”

    ITNGateway Executive Director Susan Kallash-Bailey says that’s what differentiates the “door-through-door, arm-through-arm” service from taxis or ride-sharing services.

    “We’ll carry packages and groceries,” she says. “We’ll fold up your walker and put it in the trunk for you — and bring your groceries in the house for you.”

    Cassell says her drivers always offer to carry in her packages, but she “doesn’t need that.”

    “I’m 88, but I’m extremely active,” she says, adding that there’s another difference that sets ITNGateway apart.

    “The people are lovely,” Cassell says.

    Kallash-Bailey says that personal touch makes using ITN Gateway “like going for a ride with a friend.”

    “That’s the difference,” says Kallash-Bailey. “Our riders and drivers become friends. It’s a beautiful thing.”

    People age 60 and over and those with visual impairments (21+), living within the following zip codes are eligible for the service: 63005, 63011, 63017, 63105, 63117, 63124, 63130, 63131, 63132, 63141, 63143, 63144, 63146. Individuals submit an application with the annual fee of $50 or $75 per couple and are provided rides to anywhere they want to go within the service area for any reason, 24 hours, 7 days a week at a cost of $1.50 per mile with a $2.50 pick-up fee. No money ever exchanges hands with the drivers and customers receive a monthly itemized statement.

    Kallash-Bailey says the service is quickly gaining loyal riders, but she needs volunteers to meet the demand. And she will take whatever time commitment people can offer.

    “One ride makes all the difference,” she says. “I can’t stress enough that I will work within your schedule. I’m not going to ask somebody to drive for me every week, if they can’t. I’m just asking people their availability, and if you can help me out with one ride, it makes all the difference.”

    Libbey Tucker started driving for the service in St. Charles last October, before it expanded into West County.

    “Volunteering as a driver for ITN is a very easy and rewarding way to give back and to make a difference, and I've made some new friends as well,” says Tucker. “Not only do I take people to medical appointments and shopping — but to work, church and the YMCA. Our riders truly depend on us and always express their appreciation.”

    Volunteers can earn credits that other family members or friends can use for ITN’s services or can get reimbursed for mileage. 

    To volunteer or sign up for the service, call 314-724-2117, email info@itngateway.org or visit itngateway.org.