Thanks to a recent $5,000 grant from The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries can now fund expenses for volunteers to transport at least 74 seniors to needed medical appointments and help shop for groceries to ensure nutritional needs are met.

According to Karen Wood, director of Diakon Community Services for Seniors, many of the seniors served are the frail elderly who need someone to pick them up at their front door, help them to the car and into the grocery store or doctor's office - a need that often cannot be fulfilled by public transportation options.

"Unfortunately, recent funding cuts have threatened the continuation of this transportation service for some seniors currently in the program," said Wood. "We're most grateful for The Blue Ribbon Foundation's support to help us reach those most in need in Carbon and lower Luzerne counties."

In 2012, Diakon provided services at no charge to more than 60 seniors in Luzerne and Carbon counties, allowing them to remain in their own homes instead of requiring more costly care.

"This grant demonstrates The Foundation's commitment to supporting the most vulnerable residents in our community," said Cynthia A. Yevich, executive director of The Blue Ribbon Foundation. "We're pleased to partner with Diakon, and to help them continue to provide much-needed health and wellness services for older adults."

BCNEPA established its private, nonprofit Blue Ribbon Foundation in 2002 to invest in health education and prevention initiatives that produce measurable health improvements and help manage long-term health costs for the residents of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. During its first decade of service, The Foundation has awarded nearly $10 million in grant funding to 170 nonprofits to help meet the health and wellness needs of more than 186,000 at-risk individuals.