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WATERTOWN — The Volunteer Transportation Center has received a $25,000 grant from State Farm, thanks to the community’s support.

On Tuesday, the VTC announced it had received the $25,000 grant from the State Farm Neighborhood Assist program, which typically distributes $25,000 each to the top 40 vote-getting agencies nationwide, out of a list of hundreds of options. This year, in observance of State Farm’s 100 years in business, the top 100 vote-getters received $25,000 each.

“Words cannot express how excited we were to learn we had won a $25,000 grant from our friends at State Farm,” Jeremiah S. Papineau, director of VTC’s Foundation, said in a statement. “It was something to be named a finalist but above and beyond to actually win a grant to help folks here in the north country.”

The grant money will be used to provide transportation to non-emergency medical appointments for north country residents and reimburse VTC drivers for mileage driven. Last year, the center’s volunteers drive 1.073 million miles, reimbursed at a rate of $0.445 a mile, meaning they spent about $477,600 on mileage reimbursements. Now, the center has raised its reimbursement rate to $0.50 per mile.

“When we look at where we are already this year, in terms of miles of transportation provided, and where we expect to be by the end of the year, we only expect that number to increase,” said Mr. Papineau. “That means even more of an expense for mileage reimbursement. That’s why this grant from State Farm means so much.”

He thanked local State Farm agent Thomas J. Spaulding for being instrumental in securing this grant for the VTC.

“We had help from State Farm agents across the North Country and we greatly thank them,” said Mr. Papineau. “However, Tom went above and beyond to make sure the community knew we were in the running.”

Mr. Spaulding said he’s thrilled but not surprised that the VTC was a winner in this years grant round.

“This accomplishment speaks to the amazing program, and the organization’s staff, volunteers and supporters.,” Mr. Spaulding said.

The VTC is the second regional group to receive a State Farm Neighborhood Assist program grant, after the Lowville Food Pantry won a grant in 2017. The VTC was the only nonprofit from Jefferson, Lewis or St. Lawrence counties who made it into the finalist round this year.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

I write about north country politics, Jefferson County and the northern shoreline towns of Lyme, Cape Vincent, Clayton and Alexandria Bay

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