Helping folks get around


By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Getting from here to there is a lot easier for senior citizens of Canal Winchester and Lithopolis with a free transportation service to doctor appointments, the grocery store and more in Franklin and Fairfield counties.

In 2022, Canal Winchester Human Services received funding from the village of Lithopolis to expand services to Lithopolis residents.

“Lithopolis Mayor (Eric) Sandine and I met to discuss offering our transportation services to the residents of Lithopolis,” said Human Services Director Aletha Mullins. “I am happy to report after our pilot year, the village of Lithopolis deemed this service valuable to its elderly residents thus continuing our partnership in 2023. We know there is a growing need for transportation amongst our senior population. We are fortunate to be able to provide this free service to our residents in the Canal Winchester School District and the village of Lithopolis.”

Sandine said the village wanted to increase support and outreach to at-risk residents, specifically those with food insecurity and seniors with transportation difficulties.

The village has partnered with Lancaster-Fairfield Public Transport for over a decade, but realized there was an area where residents were not provided services.

“We reached out to Aletha to see if they could help us,” said Sandine. “Not only does our partnership provide our residents with access to senior transportation and the food pantry, but we get all the additional benefits as well, such as the Tools-For-Schools, the Senior Fun trips and the Senior Prom. In addition, during the pandemic we sub-granted some of our COVID relief funding to Aletha to administer rent/mortgage relief and utility assistance to Lithopolis residents on the village’s behalf.”

The program accommodates medical appointments anywhere in Franklin County and 20 miles into Fairfield County. Non-medical appointments must be within 10 miles or less of 80 Covenant Way, Canal Winchester. On average, senior transportation currently provides 355 one-way trips per month. Medical appointments take priority.

Twice a week, a group grocery trip alternating between Meijer, Walmart, Aldi, and Kroger is provided. Monthly group trips include an Out to Lunch Bunch and fun trips to various places, all of which help keep seniors sociable and less isolated throughout the year.

Participants must be age 60 or older and a permanent resident in the Canal Winchester School District or village of Lithopolis.

“Feedback from users has been overwhelming positive, but the most poignant comments have been from residents that haven’t used or don’t need the assistance, saying that it’s comforting to know it’s there and that the village cares enough to seek out these services for residents that do need them,” said Sandine. “Our partnership with Canal Winchester Human Services allows us to work with a professional and well-run organization to provide a service that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to deliver.”

The senior transportation program started in the early 2000s and is a partnership between Canal Winchester Human Services and the city.

“When I started in 2012, there were three part-time drivers on staff,” said Mullins. “Today we have six part-time drivers on staff and are looking to hire a seventh. This is due to the increased demand for our services because of increased fuel costs and everyday living expenses. Our drivers are amazing and really go out of their way to take care of our clients. We are blessed to have such caring drivers and we couldn’t provide this wonderful free service without them.”

With the increase in transportation requests, Humans Services is in the process of hiring a seventh part-time driver. Resumes can be sent to aletha.mullins@cwhumanservices or call 614-834-4700. Information on signing up for senior transportation is available at or by calling 614-834-4700.

“We are blessed beyond measure to have wonderful partners who support our program and make it possible for us to serve our senior community,” Mullins said. “I often wonder if we were not here to provide transportation how would ‘Sally’ get to her cancer treatment or what would ‘Fred’ do if he couldn’t get to his weekly dialysis appointments. This program doesn’t just meet medical and non-medical needs but allows us to connect on another level with our elderly clients. This connection gives us the opportunity to be an ear to listen, someone to share a laugh with, or merely just another person checking in on our residents. I am grateful to my staff and drivers who make this program what it is today.”


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