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Elderly residents can catch free rides to and from area senior centers on WAVE

WAVE transit connects senior residents to available resources, including free lunch and social programs thanks to federal funding

WAVE transit has approved federal grant funding that allows senior residents free rides to and from area senior centers. (Port City Daily /FILE PHOTO)
WAVE transit has approved federal grant funding that allows senior residents free rides to and from area senior centers. (Port City Daily /FILE PHOTO)

SOUTHEASTERN, N.C. — The Cape Fear region’s public transportation system has approved continuing free transportation for elderly residents to area senior centers.

Though WAVE transit has its limitations, including access to the area’s beach towns, it does offer assistance for senior residents.

Thursday, the Cape Fear Public Transit Authority’s board awarded $70,000 in federal grant funding to be split between two eligible organizations:

Vanessa Lacer, mobility manager of the WAVE connect program, said the funding helps cover a cost burden many senior residents face.

“The need that both of these programs addresses is the barrier of cost to ages 65 and up,” Lacer said. 

Both senior centers were granted federal funding in 2017 and were re-awarded through WAVE transit’s application process this year. The goal of allotting such funding is to connect seniors to services already available at local centers, including free lunch.

At the New Hanover County Senior Resource Center, seniors over the age of 60 and accompanying guest may dine free of charge. Contributions are accepted, but not required.

“We don’t charge for the meal,” Director Amber Smith said. “But if somebody is not able to contribute to the meal the of course they will be able to receive it.”

Monthly socialization events, including games, gardening, nutritional education and cooking demonstrations are offered at the senior center. Federal funding allows seniors to access such services more easily.

“It brings more seniors connected to resources available and brings the costs down so the senior centers can do more with their funding,” Lacer said.

The full cost for WAVE transit to transport each passenger per trip is $18.85 according to Lacer. With 80 percent of the cost covered by federal funding, Brunswick Senior Resources Inc. and New Hanover County Senior Resource Center will only pay $3.77 per trip for the seniors they serve.

“That’s a significant discount,” Lacer said.

Resident’s concerns pertaining to the continuation of federal funding have been raised to WAVE transit, but Lacer says they shouldn’t worry.

“What we know as far as our executive director, it looks like this is very stable funding,” Lacer said. “Our grant now is through 2020 but the future looks very stable for this federal center.”

Johanna Ferebee can be reached at or @j__ferebee on Twitter

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