Group works to help disabled become mobile

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A nonprofit organization was recently awarded a grant that will help keep handicapped people mobile.

The Crowley's Ridge Development Council is a nonprofit agency that needs the support of the community to fund the programs they provide.

Hannah Barnett is the program coordinator of the Center for Nonprofit and Small-Town Support.

She wrote the grant for CRDC that is going to help them purchase a handicapped van.

"Crowley's Ridge Development Council is a nonprofit agency," Barnett said. "We do get state and federal funds to manage. But we only operate on the administrative fee of those grants, so it's really not that much. So, it's important for us to look for other sources of revenue. That's why we reached out for this grant. CRDC has been awarded a Delta Endowment Grant from the Arkansas Community Foundation. The focus of this grant is to improve the lives of Northeast Arkansas residents. Specifically, in the Delta. So, it's improving social and economic factors."

Barnett said this van is needed.

"The money will be used to purchase a handicapped accessible van with a lowered floor," Barnett said. "To actually help the wheel chair get to the van. It will be a seven-passenger van."

The van will cost $34,950.

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department is providing an 80% match for the van.

Barnett said to get the vehicle, CRDC were required to provide 20% of the cost. However, a part of the 20% was raised through Arkansas Gives and the rest of the funds are being provided through the grant.

"We have vans already," Barnett said. "But the van we needed to upgrade was our handicapped accessible van. And so, that's the first one we looked at and that's where the need was going."

Barnett said without the NEAT Transit system, or Northeast Arkansas Transit, many area residents would find themselves stranded at home.

"This provides access to healthcare specifically," Barnett said. "Because we do transport people to their medical appointments. We all know that transportation is a great need in the Delta. There's lots of people who miss out on services because they don't have transportation. And we're able to provide that to them at a very reduced, affordable cost. We provide non-emergency, medical appointments, transportation to education classes, work and anything you need transportation for. The grocery store, whatever you need. We provide fifty-seven cents per mile."

Barnett said this van they are purchasing will service about 3,900 people.

The NEAT Transit system covers five counties in Northeast Arkansas.

They are Crittenden, Greene, Craighead, St. Francis and Woodruff counties.

Barnett said they are looking to expand the NEAT system into other counties.

"We have to build internal capacity," Barnett said. "And that's what this new van will help us do. We have to build that internal capacity so we can serve more residents."

As a whole, CRDC actually serves eight counties right now.

Transportation is only one of the many programs CRDC works to provide 8 residents.

"We provide transportation," Barnett said. "Weatherization, low-income energy assistance. We also provide housing now. We provide support for nonprofits in small towns. We also provide food program services and substance abuse programs."

For more information about the CRDC, click here.

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