PEORIA (3TV/CBS 5) - Public transportation options in the northwest Valley are nonexistent or limited for communities like Sun City, Sun City West, Surprise, El Mirage, Peoria, Goodyear, Avondale, Litchfield Park and Buckeye.
Northwest Valley Connect was founded in 2014 to fill the transportation gap for adults 65 years old and older, especially those who are on fixed incomes, don't own cars, or are not able to drive because of health reasons. The nonprofit also helps seniors who are veterans and living with disabilities.
Based in Peoria, Northwest Valley Connect relies on volunteers to use their own cars and time to drive seniors to their doctors, appointments and errands -- for free.
The nonprofit's executive director, Kathy Chandler, is desperate for 50 more volunteer drivers.
"Our growth is tremendous. We have 35 drivers. We still deny about 105 rides in a month," she said. "That's terrible to be able to tell people they can't have a ride."
Wendy Sands, 70, lives in Surprise. She doesn't have a car and can't afford to buy one. She has been using Northwest Valley Connect for almost a year to get to her yoga class at the VA clinic and mental health appointments.
She doesn't have family or friends to help her get around.
"I only use Uber once or twice a month because that's all that's in my budget," Sands said. "There's no bus system here, so I'm not able to get anywhere without a car."
Valley Metro spokeswoman Susan Tierney explained that there's not enough local funding to create bus routes in that area.
Tierney said bus service is based on demand and density. She said nothing is planned in the near future but encourages seniors who are concerned to fill out an online survey.
Sands said without Northwest Valley Connect, she'd be isolated.
"I would be at home all day. I would be depressed. It would just be awful," she said.
Rita Gordon has been a volunteer driver with Northwest Valley Connect for six months.
"It's fun!" said Gordon, who is a senior herself. "I get out and meet a lot of different people! I get to know the community."
To qualify to be a Northwest Valley Connect volunteer, you must have a good driving record, pass a background check, and be OK with using your own car.
According to Chandler, volunteers will be reimbursed 14 cents per mile.
To learn more, visit NorthwestValleyConnect.org.