OSWEGO, NY – When members of Oswego County Visually Impaired wanted to go on regular outings, they thought getting transportation would be an obstacle until they met with Gary Mashaw, transportation director at Oswego County Opportunities.
“Gary said, ‘Tell me what you want to do and we’ll make it happen,'” recalled OCVI president Laura Smith. “Now we go on monthly outings.”
“We’ll make it happen,” Smith added, is Mashaw’s trademark quote and one of the reasons he is the winner of Aurora of Central New York’s Mattie Letham Community Leadership Award.
“Gary is someone who truly cares about making our community a better place to live by doing whatever it takes to ensure access for all individuals,” said Aurora’s executive director Deb Chaiken.
More recently, Mashaw met with Smith and Chaiken to arrange transportation for a book discussion group that is sponsored by OCVI and Aurora, and hosted by Springside at Seneca Hill.
Smith said the training Mashaw gives OCO’s Call-N-Ride drivers leads to above-average service.
“If you need help they’ll come to your door, take your arm, or take your packages. You know you’ll be safe from your house to your destination,” she said.
Mashaw, 53, who lives in a house he designed and built in Granby, has worked for Oswego County Opportunities since 1979.
He has studied ADA compliance with the New York State Intelligent Transportation Project.
“I’m always looking at adaptations to make the ride more secure and safe,” he said.
He established a token system for fares when he realized that riders with vision loss were having trouble distinguishing among denominations of bills.
“We look at small details to large. I don’t care if we’re serving three people or 1,000. We take into consideration each individual,” Mashaw said.
Aurora of CNY is the only non-profit that works exclusively with people in Central New York who are deaf, blind, visually impaired or hard of hearing.
Aurora is a United Way agency of Central New York and Oswego and Cayuga counties.
For more information, call Aurora at 422-7263 (TDD 422-9746).