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  • Ruth Heden, 73, of Milford, calls out to voters at Souhegan High School to support Article 39 on March 10. The article aimed to provide the funds to offer an on-call ride service for outlying towns. Milford, Hollis and Brookline supported the proposal.
Monday, May 18, 2009

Week 09: The Activist

Corey Perrine

If you see small blue buses in the city, look at them as success on wheels. What has taken about four years to complete, recently came to fruition in October from efforts spearheaded from the Granite State Organizing Project.

Ruth Heden, 73, of Milford, saw problems that needed to be addressed in the community and helped found GSOP in 2003. What started as the casual talk of a small religious organization, has blossomed into, as their website says, 32 religious, community and labor organizations representing 20,000 New Hampshire families. One primary target, Heden and company discovered, was providing transportation to the elderly.

“Lots of people told us you’ll never get it. You’ll never be able to raise the money for it. That we just won’t be able to do it. And we just decided, well, we’re not going away. We’re here for the long term. We’ll keep working on this till we do get it; because it’s needed.”

And finally, with the help of private donors and $44,000 later, the pilot project is off the ground. “We were very, very happy. When you work hard for something for a long time and it finally starts, it’s a good feeling . . . but you have to keep at it till you get it established until the people become comfortable with it.”

This past March, Milford, Hollis and Brookline voted to spend $20,000, $10,000 and $1,500 respectively on the transportation system. Amherst voters denied the funding. “Transportation has been the greatest barrier. It’s been an uphill battle but we have arrived.”

The ride service, The Souhegan Valley Transportation Collaborative, is offered to those who request it by calling 880-0100. It is in partnership with the Nashua Transit authority and costs $2 each way to ride. Services are offered to Milford, Hollis, Brookline and Amherst. Vehicles support up to 24 passengers at a time and are outfitted with wheelchair lifts. Rides are offered 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Riders are asked to call 48 hours in advance.