By JOSETTE KEELOR The Winchester Star
Mar 31, 2020
WINCHESTER — Local nonprofit Faith in Action is changing its name to Wheels for Wellness.
The name change is likely to get the organization’s message out more effectively, said Executive Director Traci Toth.
“Our name doesn’t say what we do,” she explained. The organization, which offers people free rides to their medical appointments, has often encountered confusion about what services it provides or where it gets its funding. Prospective donors have been reluctant to contribute to Faith in Action’s cause, wrongly assuming the organization gets all the funding it needs from the church community. Its main funding comes from Valley Health, United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley, Bowman Trust, American Woodmark Foundation, Community Foundation NSV and other foundations, along with donations and money raised through fundraisers. One of the largest fundraisers is Tablescapes, which had to be canceled this year due to the coronavirus. Toth has also fielded calls from people looking for help with paying their rent or medical bills — also not something the organization does.
Though Faith in Action has been around since 2004 and last year offered 3,261 transports to 88 people, it still operates largely under the community’s radar.
“Nobody knew us,” said Toth. There’s a “broad misunderstanding of what we do.” With the new name, she hopes to change all that. Wheels for Wellness provides a service that’s fairly unique to the community. Serving Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Warren and northern Shenandoah, it offers one-way and round-trip rides to people who have no other way of getting to their medical appointments.
Often clients are going to chemotherapy or radiation treatments, she said, or they’re receiving kidney dialysis. They don’t have their own car or are too sick to drive themselves, and they can’t afford to pay for a taxi or rideshare service, she said.
“We pick up that underserved population,” she said. “We’re the only free one in the region.” Though she said other organizations like LogistiCare of Mechanicsville and the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging also offer rides, there are two big differences.
Wheels for Wellness doesn’t require health insurance or Medicaid payments — instead funding its service through grants, donations and volunteers.
Also, clients must be ambulatory, Toth said, since Wheels for Wellness drivers cannot transport passengers with wheelchairs.
Toth, who works part-time at the organization’s Winchester office, is the only staff employee, besides a contractor who maintains the driving schedule. The organization is run through its board of directors, she said.
Drivers are volunteers, credentialed through the Valley Health system, she said. Driving schedules are flexible, based on the drivers’ availability, and Toth said more volunteers are needed.
For more information on Wheels for Wellness, contact 540-536-1006.