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The Chaffee’s Got Heart Committee now turns it spotlight on Neighbor to Neighbor/Chaffee Shuttle. The Committee recently sat down with Executive Director of Neighbor to Neighbor Volunteer/Chaffee Shuttle Hank Martin to learn more. Founded in 1997, Neighbor to Neighbor’s mission is to befriend and assist families/caregivers and elderly/frail persons; to provide transportation to all individuals.

When asked how COVID-19 caused Neighbor to Neighbor/Chaffee Shuttle to innovate the way they business, Martin explained “Our organization worked closely with the Colorado Department of Transportation as well as with Colorado Association of Transit Agencies for guidance in managing our operations through the pandemic.”

“When the COVID-19 restrictions were first announced there were certain state and local requirements for us to follow which included the use of quarantine for personnel that traveled out of state, thorough cleaning of all shuttles with the use of disinfectant, use of masks by all personnel for the safety of our passengers, and requiring our patrons to wear masks and safely social distance our riders on the shuttle. We also purchased an Electrostatic Sprayer gun to thoroughly disinfect the shuttles after each shift.”

From left to right is: Executive Director Hank Martin, Driver Paula McPhee, Executive Assistant Andrea Wilkerson, and Office/Fleet Manager Sam Trujillo.

“We also worked closely with the Chaffee County Community Foundation in creating the Senior Shuttle’s Shopper Program where our drivers conducted shopping of household essentials for patrons under lockdown. In addition, we agree to work closely with Chaffee County Public Health in providing transit services to clients needing to get to vaccination appointments.”

Martin then explained why the organization decided to go above and beyond to contribute to our community. He said “The Chaffee Shuttle felt it was vital to our community to continue operating utilizing safe practices to meet the needs of the community.  Although our ridership was drastically reduced, we thought of creative ways to assist the county through the lockdown.”

When asked where he sees examples of the idea that ‘Chaffee’s Got Heart’, Martin explained “The easiest example is the outpouring of generosity from the residents and the businesses of Chaffee County.  “Chaffee’s Got Heart” exemplifies the small-town attitude of being there to meet the various needs of the community during crucial times like the pandemic. The Chaffee Shuttle recognized that the majority of our patrons were in the high-risk category of contracting the COVID-19 virus and felt the need to step up to continue operating for the purpose of giving back to our community.”

Martin’s explained the biggest takeaway from the past year “The past year has had its share of challenges and for The Chaffee Shuttle it involved constantly re-evaluating and re-assessing the needs of our community and seeking solutions to meet those needs.”

The Chaffee Shuttle is a nonprofit organization funded through donations and grants. It operates with private, state and federal funds.  The Chaffee Shuttle provides transportation for everyone in our community, including the elderly and mobility challenged individuals.  The shuttle works in cooperation with other nonprofit organizations and our local government agencies to meet current and future needs in our county.