GULFPORT, Fla. — The Gulfport Senior Center Foundation announced last week that it would discontinue its popular "Gulfport GETGO" ride service as of May 30.
It's been eight years since Betty Duffey was legally declared blind in one eye.
“I went through a little depression when I realized I couldn’t drive anymore,” said Duffey.
But the Gulfport GETGO van offered her the independence she would have otherwise lost.
“It’s easy to get anywhere in Gulfport, like Walgreens or the grocery store, and they drop you off and come get you,” said Duffey.
Betty is one of hundreds of Gulfport residents and visitors who have taken advantage of the GETGO vans.
So when she came across a Facebook post announcing the program will not be operating for the foreseeable future, she couldn't believe it.
“I was shocked," she told us. "I was like freaking out, devastated."
According to Bob Newcomb, who serves on the board of directors for the Gulfport Senior Center Foundation, the decision did not come easily.But with vehicles needing major repairs, he says funding the program was eating up too many resources.
“It came with challenges that were particular to us," Newcomb explained. "Our primary goal and objective is to promote the senior center itself, and it was beginning to take away from that mission."
But he says they are going to do everything they can to save the program.
“We’re going to try to find a way that we can transfer the assets of the GETGO to another organization who can ... make it a primary goal, other than a secondary goal, for their business,” said Newcomb.
Duffey says she speaks for everyone when she says she would like to see that happen.
“There’s got to be a way," she said. "It improves everybody’s life, they enjoy it."
Newcomb also says the board is looking for a way to pay back any business owners who prepaid for advertisements on the GETGO vehicles.
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