East Tennessee volunteers worry about soaring gas prices

By: Allison Hunt
By: Allison Hunt

KNOX COUNTY (WVLT) It's a program some senior citizens in Knoxville could not live without, but the life of the program could be short because of high gas prices.

Volunteers for "Project Live" drive senior citizens to and from doctor appointments, the grocery store and even church, but it could get more difficult getting people to pay high prices out of their own pockets.

Volunteer TV's Allison Hunt has more.

Jewell Trent, who gets help from Project Live says, "he calls and says I'm on my way so i know to put the coffee on."

Trent has a doctor appointment.

She can't drive herself, so Owen Liles, a volunteer with Project Live, is here to help.

"I feel like he's the adopted grandson I never had."

Owen has been driving Jewell to the doctor, to shopping and to church two nights a week for about a year.

Trent says, "if it wasn't for him I don't know if I'd be here or not."

The trip is about a half hour.

They talk about food, southern culture and Jewell's appointment.

But when Owen looks at his gas gage, he thinks about something else.

Owen Liles, a volunteer for Project Live says, "we're trying to attract volunteers but some volunteers don't have the money to pay the gas by themselves."

He spends about 200 dollars a month on gas.

The office on aging reimburses 46 cents a mile.

"As gasoline prices go higher and higher it may be harder for any social program to reimburse travel expenses."

Owen says without volunteers, some of the independence these senior citizens now have will be taken away.

Liles says, "where instead of having your own piece of land and your own private apartment you're stuck in a tin can with a bunch of other people."

Trent says, "lord i depend on him so much."

And for that, Owen says no matter what the cost, he will never stop driving Jewell.

Liles says, "I'd go there on a bicycle if I had to, and I've got a bicycle."

Project Live needs volunteers.

To get more information, call 524-2786.


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