Kennedy Center receives $120,000 from Pfriem to purchase vans

The Kennedy Center provides daily transportation services to people with disabilities. Over the last several years, the Norma F. Pfriem Foundation has generously supported The Kennedy Center by providing new vehicles to replace their aging fleet. State funding does not cover the cost of replacement and the Foundation’s support has been crucial in helping the agency’s transportation services meet the mobility needs of their clients who rely on these services to get to work, programs and daily appointments.

Most recently, the Norma F. Pfriem Foundation generously donated four Quest vans valued at a total of $120,000 to The Kennedy Center. These new 7-passenger vehicles are providing transportation to clients involved in residential services, employment services and students in transitional programs. In total, the Foundation has donated a total of 25 vehicles.

The Kennedy Center has built an extensive transportation network to help meet the needs of citizens with disabilities in the community. Transportation services run five days a week, Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., plus on an as needed basis over the weekends for clients who are residents in our 16 group homes or are involved in recreational activities.

Tony Abbott, transportation manager at The Kennedy Center, said, “When I was first hired 26 years ago, we had 15 vehicles. Now we operate a fleet of 146 vehicles. These vehicles include cars, minivans, 15-passenger vans and cutaway mini-buses that seat 14-22 passengers.”

The Kennedy Center maintains one of the largest private, non-profit transportation systems in Fairfield and New Haven Counties. In addition to the 17 drivers in the transportation department, a larger percentage of Kennedy Center’s staff members also transport clients to their various destinations, most of whom have a public service license for transporting groups of 10 people or more. The cost of transportation is funded through donations and by the Department of Developmental Services, so there is no cost to clients.

In Fairfield County, The Kennedy Center serves nine communities: Bridgeport, Stratford, Trumbull, Fairfield, Easton, Monroe, Shelton, Norwalk, and Ridgefield. In New Haven County, the agency services clients in Oxford, Naugatuck, Milford, Orange, and New Haven. The Kennedy Center fleet of vehicles averages well over 1.5 million miles annually and provides approximately 125,000 trips per year.

“We are extremely appreciative of the Norma F. Pfriem Foundation for its continued generosity over the past several years,” said Martin D. Schwartz, President and CEO of The Kennedy Center. “We especially want to thank Paul Miller, Chair of this Foundation as well as the other Foundation trustees, for recognizing the importance of our programs to enhance the lives of others.

“Their ongoing support has definitely made a difference in all of our lives. With these new vehicles, we no longer have the concern of high maintenance costs and safety issues associated with an older fleet. Our staff appreciates these new vehicles and our clients are so excited and proud to ride in the new vans.”

For years, The Kenendy Center has struggled to find the financial resources for aging vehicles, since transportation services receive minimal state funding. The replacement program initiated by the Norma F. Pfriem Foundation has enabled The Kennedy Center to turn in gas guzzling and high maintenance vehicles, many of which had more than 200,000 miles.

The Kennedy Center, with the invaluable support of the Norma F. Pfriem Foundation, has provided a most commendable service to hundreds of people with disabilities in the region who are giving back to their community through their jobs and involvement in community-based activities.