Catholic Charities to run Tarrant County ride services for needy

FORT WORTH -- Catholic Charities has taken over transportation services for the needy in the Fort Worth-area, a responsibility previously held by the American Red Cross.

"Our job in this community is to help families in poverty," said Heather Reynolds, CEO and president of Catholic Charities Fort Worth.

Reynolds and other dignitaries held a news conference Thursday morning at Catholic Charities' south Fort Worth campus to announce the completion of a transition that began in September.

Services will include:

HEB Transit, which covers work-related trips for disadvantaged people in Hurst, Euless and Bedford.

Medical trips that begin and end in Tarrant County.

Northeast Transportation Services, for area residents age 55 and over and people with disabilities in Bedford, Euless, Grapevine, Haltom City, Hurst, Keller and North Richland Hills.

Tarrant County Transportation Services, for area residents age 65 and over and people with disabilities in Azle, Benbrook, Crowley, Everman, Forest Hill, Kennedale, Mansfield, Saginaw, Sansom Park and Westworth Village.

Ride2Work, for low- and moderate-income Arlington residents needing a ride in their city or Bedford, Euless or Hurst, or to the Trinity Railway Express stations at CentrePort and Hurst/Bell.

Transportation will now become a major part of what Catholic Charities does, accounting for about $2 million of its $20 million budget.

The American Red Cross wanted to transition away from providing transportation services, and began looking for a partner many months ago. The agency settled on Catholic Charities, which has the ability to not only take over these services but to expand them, said T.D. Smyers, regional chief executive officer for the American Red Cross North Texas region.

"We weren't going to do this until we found a partner to make this work," Smyers said.

The transition began in September, with the blessing of the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, the United Way of Tarrant County and other entities that provide funding for the transportation services.

In its first month, Catholic Charities provided 5,100 rides for needy residents, officials said. The agency is a regular form of transportation for more than 800 people.

"We understand the importance of people getting to work, doctor appointments, and to do the things they need to do," said Tom Stallings, Tarrant County chief of staff.

Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796

Twitter: @gdickson