Need a ride? JFS Orlando's RIDE program can help


Zelda and Melvin Siskind

There is a great resource through Jewish Family Services Orlando (JFS Orlando) for older adults and/or people with disabilities who may need transportation to and from various medical appointments and essential shopping trips. This service is called RIDE-Reliable Independent Drivers for the Elderly-and it has been erroneously assumed to be only for those with low incomes. But not so fast! It is available to ANY older adult and/or people with disabilities who need transportation!

Widely used in Orange County, the program isn't very well-known in Seminole County, however, through a generous grant given by Melvin and Zelda Siskind about a year ago, RIDE was expanded to offer free or subsidized transportation to residents in Seminole County.

"We were very grateful to be able to expand the RIDE program with the donation from the Siskinds," said JFS Orlando Executive Director Eric Geboff.

"God had been good to us, and we had a very good life," said Zelda. "We were more profitable than we expected and we wanted to give to several organizations whereby we could give back to the community."

Zelda continued with how they decided what organizations to give back to: "Melvin suggested we each pick five-and guess what? We both picked the same things!" she said with a chuckle and twinkle in her eyes.

The Siskinds lived in the Sanford area for more than 50 years. Zelda explained that while many older adults are perfectly capable to drive themselves to appointments or the store, over the years, roads and scenery have changed. It can be confusing to drive somewhere while trying to recognize the areas that used to be so familiar.

Many assisted living facilities offer transportation services to medical appointments. However, the buses often make a "loop," taking several people to their appointments, which can be at many different locations. This means a person can be dropped off at their medical facility long before their scheduled appointments and picked up long after the appointment, causing them to have to wait hours to return home.

"We just noticed that we needed some help to get somewhere, and it is very hard to find anyone or an organization to help you," Zelda explained.

JFS Orlando is an organization that strives to help anyone who needs help. "Now with the expansion of the RIDE services, we are able to help those elderly and disabled members of the Jewish community, which will further help seniors to maintain their independence," Geboff stated.

The RIDE program offers free or subsidized, round-trip transportation services and it is simple to use. There is no money exchanged in the car, and no tipping is allowed.

How does one go about getting this service? Simply call Claudia Tobin, JFS Orlando RIDE coordinator, at 407-644-7593, ext. 239, and she will enroll you in the program, which offers two rides per month per person. RIDE office hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

When you need a ride to a doctor's appointment or the pharmacy or even to get some essential shopping done, call Tobin and she will take care of the rest. A driver will come to your home, take you to your appointment and bring you back home.

Spread the word! Not everyone has access to The Heritage Florida Jewish News and will not read this article. Therefore, JFS Orlando suggests that if Heritage readers know of people-friends and neighbors-who could benefit from the RIDE services, to tell them to call JFS Orlando about the RIDE program.

Also in 2016, Zelda and her son, Jeff Siskind, are thrilled that JFS Orlando's RIDE program will expand the program to include transportation to area Jewish cultural events.

The Siskind's grant came from a desire to insure long-term sustainability for the RIDE program and promote further expansion, therefore, any donations to the RIDE program are always welcome and accepted, and will enable the program to ride on for a long time!

Visit for more information about JFS Orlando and the RIDE program.


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