My name is Roland Finken. My wife and I are members of Temple Rodef Shalom and have lived in McLean for 40 years. Since moving here I've been aleader in civic and social affairs. I was on the board of the Friends of the McLean Community Center and was chair of the Dranesville Council. I ran for the school board and I served as the president of the McLean Hamlet.
Two years ago I stopped driving. When the keys are taken away, the wife and the kids are there to help, but everyone else peters out. It has been difficult for me to get around my neighborhood now that I am not driving. My wife helps out as much as she can, but she has her own life and can't take me everywhere I need to go. She is traveling right now so she can't drive me around. I don't want to hold her back from her life. I can't use public transportation because the buses stop too far away from our house.
Neighbors have offered to help, but they have their own lives and are busy. While they say they can take me to the Giant, or other places I need to go, they cannot take me on a regular basis. I don't want to be always calling on them. I feel bad putting them in on the spot.
As I said, my wife is out of town, so I called the Shepard Center to see if they could help me get to necessary appointments. However, the founder and main volunteer, Ed Schrock, is on vacation as well, so they aren't offering rides right now. While the Shepard Center does amazing work, they are limited in what they can do. All volunteer programs are limited. They only have enough volunteers to take people to necessary appointments and can't always meet all the needs in the community.
I sometimes use SHARE to get around. Once, I had a ride to the dentist with them. On the way there, the volunteer told me that he wouldn't be able to drive me back to my house after the appointment. I was stranded. The only option I had was to take a cab back to my house. It cost me $30 to get from Seven Corners to my house in McLean. I can't afford to take a taxi everywhere I go, even with the vouchers that are offered through taxi access.
Lack of affordable, accessible transportation is making it hard for me to get to appointments and social events in our neighborhood and at the temple. As a community we have been researching the problem and possible solutions and engaging our elected officials on the topic. Together I think we can make life better for all of us. I look forward to a day when I can easily get around the community where I have lived for more than 40 years.