Valley of the Sun YMCA offering free rides for Phoenix seniors to get to vaccination site

Help is on the way for seniors needing a ride to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Officials with YMCA say they're now offering free rides in order for seniors to get access to the vaccine.

The program is called YOPAS, short for Y Outreach Programs for Ahwatukee Seniors, and it's a service that's helped seniors for many years. Now, there are hopes of expanding after a generous donation. 

"This is an opportunity for us to expand that reach during the pandemic," said emergency response coordinator Jenna Cooper. "We need more volunteers to give people rides, and because it’s going to take us a minute to ramp up the volunteer effort, that’s where the donor dollars came in and are making a tremendous difference to get a ride immediately through Uber."

Chuck Dubroff and his daughter were volunteers on the helpline when vaccine appointments started to roll out. During that time, he had a number of callers who said they couldn't make their appointments because they didn't have a ride. 

Dubroff eventually took it upon himself to call Uber and ask for help. He then chose YMCA because of its ties to the community. 

"I put everything together with Uber Health, which is a program Uber has around the country with respect to making appointments for people to get to their health appointments, and The Y stepped up and I sparked the idea with a donation," said Dubroff.

Officials with YMCA say they have a small pool of drivers but will need volunteers to step up.

"We currently have volunteer drivers. It’s a small pool of drivers right now, but they are active and we’ve already been giving vaccination rides, but the demand is increasing, and the area of need is decreasing geographically, so we have to recruit volunteers from all across Maricopa County," said Cooper.