Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – Now in its 32th year, Ocean County is getting ready to distribute $39,500 in grant funds to 20 non-profit organizations that help provide transportation to senior and disabled residents.
"The minigrant program supplements and enhances our Ocean Ride public transportation system by helping to offset senior and disabled resident transportation costs for some non-profit organizations," said Freeholder Virginia E. Haines, who serves as liaison to Ocean Ride.
The mini grant program began in 1985 and has provided over $1.8 million to a variety of local non-profit organizations to support their efforts to provide transportation services to their specific participants.
"The program is funded through a portion of the county's casino revenue grant allocation received from NJ TRANSIT," Haines said. "Ocean County continues to be the only County in the state to provide a portion of its grant funds to help local non-profit agencies."
David Fitzgerald, Director of the Ocean County Department of Transportation, noted that the maximum grant award for the 2017 program was $2,000 per applicant and that the minigrants help fill transportation gaps that the County system could not otherwise fill.
In recognition of the fact that Ocean County's casino revenue grant has been declining since 2008, and funding has dropped by over 50 percent, the Ocean County Transportation Advisory Committee recommended that the transportation mini-grant allocation maximum grant award total once again be $2,000.
Given the continued flat earnings reports from the Atlantic City casino industry, the advisory committee recommended to continue the suspension on considering new applicants, since doing so would place an additional strain on the minigrant program in future years.
Grant recipients are: The Arc, Ocean County Chapter, Inc.; Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey; Community Medical Center Foundation; Community Services, Inc. of Ocean County; Counseling and Referral Services of Ocean County/Seashore Family Services Inc.; Eye Openers of Point Pleasant/Brick; Interfaith Health & Support Services of Southern Ocean County; Jewish Family & Children's Services/Jewish Federation of O.C.; LADACIN Network (Cerebral Palsy of Mon./Ocean Counties); Long Beach Island Community Center, Inc.; Manchester Township Senior Outreach Program; NJ Coalition on Women & Disabilities Ocean County Chapter, Ocean County Board of Social Services; Ocean Housing Alliance, Inc.; Our Special Kids of Toms River Inc.; The Special Children Center, Inc.; Team Randy; Toms River Township Senior Center; Twenty-One-Plus, Inc., and Vetwork, A Program of Vetgroup, Inc.
"The sheer size of Ocean County – more than 638 square miles – makes it a challenge for the county to run a transportation system that can accommodate the needs of all of our residents," said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, "Providing this funding to these agencies helps to enhance the county run program."
Grant applications are reviewed by the Ocean County Transportation Services Department in cooperation with the Ocean County Transportation Advisory Committee for Senior Citizens and Persons with Disabilities, which makes the funding recommendation to the Board of Chosen Freeholders.
"While Ocean Ride provides a transportation lifeline for so many of our citizens, in particular our seniors, we appreciate the efforts of the grant recipients to provide assistance in the area of transportation," Haines said. "I am happy we can continue the minigrant program. They help transport veterans, the disabled, the elderly and a host of residents many of whom have special needs. It makes a difference in the lives of a lot of our residents."