Community-Based Organization: Seniors First | Auburn, CA

Contact: Amy Bakker, Transportation Coordinator |

Many senior residents of Placer County, California have reduced transportation options due to financial or physical limitations. “Getting transportation for errands or medical appointments” ranked as the top need identified by seniors in the area[1]. Transportation can increase independence, provides connection with the community, ensures access to life-sustaining activities, and provides adults with access to resources in their communities.

In order to respond to challenges faced by seniors and their need for transportation, Seniors First, 501(c)3 non-profit organization located in Auburn, California, developed a transportation model that consists primarily of three programs:

  1. Door to Door Rides: a volunteer-driver program which provides seniors with rides to medical and dental appointments, labs, pharmacies, grocery stores, shopping, banking, and hairdressers, and other small errands. Volunteer drivers provide over 600 trips per month or 7,200 trips per year.
  2. Health Express: a professional transportation service that brings seniors and persons with disabilities to and from non-emergency medical appointments. Seniors First collaborates with the Placer Collaborative Network, which includes Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital, Sutter Roseville Medical Center, and Western Placer Consolidated Transportation Services Agency (WPCTSA) to operate Health Express. The service provides 48 one-way trips per day, for a total of 12,672 trips per year.
  3. My Rides: a volunteer-driver program that serves small children (0-5 years old), seniors, and disabled individuals living in more rural areas of the county. My Rides also includes the Rural Mileage Reimbursement Program and the First 5 Rural Mileage Reimbursement Program, which allow eligible residents to enlist a neighbor or friend to provide transportation to nonemergency medical appointments where volunteers drivers may not be available.

There are three full-time staff dedicated to all three programs, including a Transportation Coordinator who provides direction and oversight and two Transportation Schedulers. In addition to coordinating transportation for eligible clients and volunteers, these staff collect and input client and volunteer tracking data, and give information to callers on all available transportation options in Placer County, including those offered by Seniors First.

Seniors First has a variety of funders and supporters that sustain their transportation program, including:

  • The Door to Door Rides and My Rides programs are funded through the WPCTSA ($92,500), the Area 4 Agency on Aging (A4AA) ($55,000), and Placer First 5 ($13,000). Voluntary client contributions make up around $11,200 of the program’s budget.
  • Health Express is funded primarily through the PCTPA ($375,000), Sutter Hospital ($100,000), and Kaiser Permanente ($25,000). Voluntary client contributions make up about $8,000-$10,000 of the project’s annual budget.

The goal of transportation program is to help the seniors in Placer County be as active and independent as possible. Unlike many other Medicaid non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) programs, Seniors First offers person-centered services through a community-based, non-profit organization. Senior First is improving their clients’ lives by providing them with affordable, reliable and flexible transportation in order to access health care services and other daily life activities.

HOP Tip: Collaboration is a key part of ensuring the success of many programs, especially transportation programs that are often expensive to start and sustain. Seniors’ First transportation model is supported by a variety of funding sources, including the local transit authority, a joint powers agency concerned with seniors, two local hospitals, and the county children and families commission. The fusion of these resources results in more buy-in from a variety of organizations and increases the likelihood for long-term sustainability by not relying on one funding source.


This publication was made possible by grant number U30CS09743 from the Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Primary Health Care. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of HRSA.


[1] 2008-09 Needs Assessment Report, Area 4 Agency on Aging (A4AA).