By LIZ BUTTON
Rye-based non-profit SPRYE, which stands for “Staying Put in Rye & Environs,” received a $5,000 sustainability grant from the Village-to-Village Net-work—a national organization that lends support to groups that facilitate aging in place—the group announced Dec. 3.
Aging in place is SPRYE’s mission. The group helps senior residents in the area continue to live and function in their own homes, in their own communities, for as long as possible until they require other types of care outside the home, such as hospitalization or those full-time services provided by a nursing home or full-time nurse.
Tom Saunders, chairman of SPYRE’s executive committee, said the group will use the grant to make technological improvements to bolster its ability to offer transportation services for its 110 clients in Rye City, Rye Brook, Harrison and Port Chester.
Through a network of trained volunteers, local drivers offer transportation to elderly, housebound clients for medical appointments, grocery shopping and other important errands. SPRYE’s transportation assistance program specially trains its drivers, so some of the grant money will be set aside for improving training practices as well.
“We will be using [the grant money] to install a new database for our transportation operation, and we’ll be producing a manual for our volunteer drivers,” Saunders said.
Currently, the club keeps track of routes, schedules and addresses for its volunteer drivers and elderly clients by hand, Saunders said. Now, with the grant, SPRYE is considering purchasing a database called Ride Assist and looking at several other route management computer programs as possibilities.
The club will acquire these new amenities through the Village-to-Village Network, a national peer-to-peer network that helps establish and improve management of community programs that coordinate aging in place services. Funding for village-to-village’s grant program is provided through the MetLife Foundation, which was created by the MetLife insurance company and has given more than $530 million in grants to charitable causes since 1976.
“This grant not only provides much-needed funding, but it puts us on the map,” SPRYE president Nancy Haneman said.
Much of the group’s funds are obtained through contributions and grants. According to SPRYE, other nearby aging in place organizations have found that, in their groups’ early stages, member fees tend to cover 40 percent or less of the operating expenses.
Founded in 2011, SPRYE is one of a number of organizations established recently as part of a nationwide aging in place movement, joining more than 120 community groups in operation across the country. Similar organizations exist in the nearby communities of Bronxville, Greenwich, Conn., Larchmont, Ma-maroneck, New Canaan, Conn., Scarsdale, Somers, Wh-ite Plains and Yonkers.
Anyone 60 years of age or older can apply to receive SPRYE services for an annual membership fee of $360 for an individual and $480 for a couple.
In addition to transportation, the group delivers recreation and socialization opportunities through regular arts events, museum tours, wellness workshops and lectures. SPRYE also offers referrals through a network of pre-screened professional service providers that include home health care aides, handymen, patient advocacy experts and help with technology and shopping.