New service celebrated at I.C. Senior Center March 6


IMLAY CITY — Depending on one’s circumstances, getting from point A to point B can be complicated in rural communities, especially for anyone who doesn’t have a vehicle or isn’t able to drive.

Transportation barriers can impact a person’s day-to-day needs, particularly those related to personal wellness, but a new Lapeer County program, Rides to Wellness by GLTA, seeks to help residents overcome those mobility challenges and access the goods and services that benefit their health.

The new program was officially celebrated at a March 6 ribbon cutting ceremony at the Imlay City Senior Center.

In addition to enjoying cake and punch, guests had the opportunity to see one of two designated Rides to Wellness vehicles and speak to representatives from the Greater Lapeer Transportation Authority (GLTA) about this premium transportation service.

Rides to Wellness by GLTA is an easy-to-use service that’s designed to transport Lapeer County residents to medical and health-related appointments, plus other locations that foster wellness such as pharmacies, grocery stores, farmers markets and various community resources.

Celebrating the official launch of Rides to Wellness by GLTA were (l-r) Megan Murphy of the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Kathy Dickens of Four County Community Foundation, Veronica Marchese of the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Stephanie Hamilton and Kelly Bales of GLTA, Nancy Boxey of the Lapeer County Community Foundation, Kim Hebberd of the United Way of Lapeer County and Traci Pewinski of GLTA.

“This service is open to everybody, but we anticipate it will likely be used the most by senior citizens,” said Kelly Bales, GLTA Executive Director.

Bales noted that Rides to Wellness by GLTA is a premium service that will utilize two passenger vehicles that can take an individual and their family members to locations both in and outside of Lapeer County.

“Rides to Wellness by GLTA will allow someone a comfortable ride home from a dialysis appointment or similar medical procedures,” Bales said.

The new service comes with a one-way fee of $15 in Lapeer County with a higher fee for out-of-county rides, but Bales notes that financial assistance is often available and encourages residents to reach out to GLTA’s Mobility Coordinator Stephanie Hamilton to relay their needs and discuss their options.

Funding assistance for trip costs has been provided by the Michigan Transportation Connection.

In addition to working with individuals, Bales said Rides to Wellness by GLTA hopes to partner with agencies and health providers who would like to help their clients and patients attend important appointments either on a case-by-case basis or through a retainer agreement.

Rides to Wellness by GLTA drivers will be GLTA staff who have been fully-trained and screened as part of the authority’s hiring process.

Also in attendance at Monday’s ribbon cutting were participants in a Lapeer County transportation coalition who have examined public transportation needs within the community over a period of several years. The coalition featured participants from state, county and local levels of government, plus those from local organizations and public service providers who took part in meetings and lent their expertise on the subject of public transportation.

Coalition members include Four County Community Foundation, Lapeer County Community Foundation and United Way of Lapeer County who provided matching grant dollars to help purchase the Rides to Wellness by GLTA vehicles. 4CCF Executive Director Kathy Dickens was awarded a $96,000-plus Michigan Health Endowment Collaborative Grant for the coalition to hire a consultant, RLS & Associates.

For more information about Rides to Wellness by GLTA, contact Stephanie Hamilton at 810-664-4566, ext. 206 or visit