Giving a ride

Darien family covers cost of new senior service van

The group that helps Darien’s seniors get around got a little pick-me-up of their own recently, thanks to the family of a reliable rider.

The family of former Darien resident Joaquin Paul Rodriguez covered to pay the costs of a new Toyota Sienna van. Rodriguez’s wife and daughters decided to cover the cost of the new van, which had to be fitted to accommodate a wheelchair, only months after Rodriguez passed away.

Rodriguez had used the transportation service for about a year when At Home In Darien was known as Aging In Place+Gallivant. Rodriquez suffered a stroke in November 2012 and used the aging service’s van along with his wife, Judy, to get where he needed to go around town or in surrounding communities.

“He used it for quality of life transportation,” said Gina Blum, executive director of At Home In Darien. Rodriguez and his wife, Judy, “were so happy that we offered those services.”

The new van replaces an older, larger bus that seats 12 and, according to Blum, was not very fuel-efficient. While it had a larger capacity, Blum said they usually had no more than three passengers on board at a time. At Home In Darien had planned on replacing the older van for about three years.

“We needed something smaller and fuel efficient,” Blum said. “This is wonderful and fits in more with the community. Most people knew about the big van, but we gave that up to get this more comfortable ride.”

Blum said the organization had already planned on replacing the older vehicle with the smaller Sienna, which is quieter, cozier and more fuel-efficient. The assist from the Rodriguez family was a bonus.

“We were completely surprised,” Blum said. “We were delighted and they were so happy that they received these services. It’s so nice that they would give us such a generous donation.”

Rodriguez’s daughter Anne Rodriguez-McGuire said her mom thought financing the new van would be a nice gesture. It was something Judy Rodriguez even considered when Paul was alive, Rodriguez-McGuire said.

“The van made his quality of life better. It’s just nice that we can help out,” said Rodriguez-McGuire, who is a member of the board with At Home In Darien. “It’s nice that we can do something to contribute to a program that helps people continue living in the community.”

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