Joanna Yorke-Payne [https://www.vbjusa.com/news/top-stories/nonprofit-spotlight-community-in-motion/]
Originally organized in 1946 as the Clark County Council of Community Agencies with seven social service agencies, the nonprofit organization now known as Community in Motion has seen a lot of reorganization and change over the years.
In 1951, the organization reorganized as the Vancouver Council of Social Agencies, with the purpose of “promoting the general welfare of the community.” In 1957, the organization became a nonprofit and were a social services agency, then in 1966 they became the Health and Welfare Planning Council. Finally, in 1990, the organization again changed their name – this time to the Human Services Council.
“In 2019 we really looked at what we do well and where the need (is),” said Jeananne Edwards, Community in Motion executive director. “We made the decision that when the grant for the RSVP program ended, we focused wholly on transportation. As a result, we rebranded and became Community in Motion. Unfortunately, Covid hit and a lot of our marketing efforts were put on hold. We have transportations that help people in Southwest Washington, including Klickitat, Skamania, Wahkiakum, Cowlitz and Clark (counties).”
Community in Motion can assist with transportation for people on Washington State Medicaid needing transportation to medical appointments (NEMT Program); people needing transportation assistance for employment-related activities, including a bike-to-work program that can provide a bicycle, equipment and training (Employment Transportation); a shuttle for those living in North Clark County to go into Battle Ground (North County Shuttle Service); and assistance to help with life-sustaining medical appointments (Reserve a Ride).
Edwards said they also have a volunteer driver program in Clark County that began shortly before the pandemic. The program, Volunteers in Motion, allows for people to volunteer to help the community get to where they need to go. The program’s focus is people who are 65 or older or who have a disability and reside in Clark County.
“This is certainly a more fun program where we can take people grocery shopping, to get a haircut, to see a movie and attend social gatherings,” Edwards said. “Basically, to help people feel less isolated.”
Edwards said the training and background checks for the Volunteers in Motion program are pretty extensive. Fingerprint background checks are completed, as well as a Washington State Criminal History report. The training includes Defensive Driving and Passenger Assistance Training.
“Anyone who is willing to either drive their vehicle or the agency van or wheelchair van and help one person out once a month, or as many as your schedule allows, is of great appreciation by the person they are helping and us as an agency,” she said. “We welcome people to contact us or visit our website to download the application to get started right away.”
Following the pandemic, Edwards said the biggest growth that the organization has accomplished is being able to allow their staff to work a hybrid remote scenario. She said the challenge, however, was how to quickly move a call center to function out of the employees’ homes. As far as expansion within the organization goes, she said they have been able to start the North Clark County Shuttle Service program and are very thankful for some of the additional funding that has happened recently to allow them to take some people off waiting lists for transportation.
Out of the services that Community in Motion offers, Edwards said they have seen a huge need in getting people food and medications.
“Thankfully, one of our funders has allowed us to transport food and medicine to our clients without them being physically in the car,” she said. “Soon, this will run out and will be no longer an option for us. With the increase of gas prices we have had many people contact us to get gas assistance to go places, which unfortunately is not something we can typically do because are lacking funding in this area.”
The Community in Motion organization is funded by grants, with their three main funders being Washington Healthcare Authority (HCA), Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and C-TRAN. The organization also has a Mobility Manager for Clark County. This person is all about finding solutions for transportation issues, and they work with other nonprofits, cities, agencies and businesses as well as individuals.
To learn more about Community in Motion and what you can do to help the organization, visit their website at communityinmotion.org.