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Keeping Summit's Seniors Connected, "Big Wheel" Bus Seeks Support

The Alternative Press Staff

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 • 3:49pm

SUMMIT, NJ - Summit’s senior bus transportation system is in need of donations to continue serving Summit’s elderly population.  Without a successful fundraising campaign, this service is in jeopardy of depleting its funds within the next 18 months.  

Keeping seniors connected is the driving force behind Big Wheel, a service of Senior Connections, Inc., which has been a part of the Summit scene for more than a quarter century.  This 22-passenger bus has become an essential service for many of Summit’s seniors, connecting them with the greater community and in turn helping them to maintain a sense of independence.

Big Wheel, a 501 (c) (3) corporation, has become dependent upon the generosity from residents and corporate agencies in order to continue to uphold its mission of keeping seniors connected.

Previously owned and operated by the Junior League of Summit, Big Wheel has since been turned over to the Summit Department of Community Programs (DCP).  The DCP has worked to enhance and maintain this service ever since taking over the operation in 2011.  Currently operating five days a week, Big Wheel takes Summit’s seniors to and from local establishments including grocery stores, shopping malls, and downtown Summit.  Big Wheel offers a personalized and reliable method of transportation, all at absolutely no cost to Summit’s seniors. 

For many of Summit's seniors, Big Wheel is their only form of viable transportation.  Without the service, there is the potential for an isolated senior population.  This service is vital in helping seniors connect and stay active within the community, providing them the opportunity to partake in the daily activities that bring meaning to their lives.  Without the representation of the senior population, Summit would not be functioning as a complete community. 

Big Wheel is entirely funded by donations and grants.  The Summit DCP is responsible for covering the cost of everything from vehicle maintenance, salaries and wages, to insurance and even gas expenditures.  Annually, the DCP spends approximately $60,000 a year just to keep the bus running.  The operating budget may fluctuate from year to year depending upon maintenance issues, increasing gas prices and various other factors.  Furthermore, there is no current capital campaign in place for a new bus.  

To make a donation or to learn more about Big Wheel, a service of Senior Connections Inc., visit www.cityofsummit.org/BigWheel or call 908 / 277-2932.

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