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Sycamore Voluntary Action Center awarded $37K in grants

SYCAMORE – The city council voted to contribute $37,000 in grants to the Voluntary Action Center this year to help fund VAC’s nutritional program and TransVac, its public transportation service.

Sycamore City Council members approved a $17,000 grant Monday to help fund MedVac, which provides trips to medical facilities, and Meals on Wheels, which delivers meals to area seniors and homebound residents.

Council members also approved a $20,000 grant to provide long-term funding for TransVac’s Blue Line bus service. The grants are funded through Sycamore’s hotel/motel tax fund. The grants are regularly funded by the city’s tax on hotel stays and through sales tax generated by airline fuel purchases, records show.

“The residents of Sycamore have certainly been increasing their use of that service pretty significantly,” said Tom Zucker, executive director of the Voluntary Action Center.

Ridership of the Blue Line bus service has increased 25 percent since last year to about 2,025 rides a month, according to city documents.

Use of the organization’s paratransit, or “dial-a-ride,” service also has increased about six percent in the past year, and the service is now running near capacity, Zucker said.

“It’s something that’s definitely being utilized,” Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory said.

The local grants approved Monday match funding from the state of Illinois and the federal government, the agenda shows. The bulk of Voluntary Action Center’s services are funded by the state.

According to its website, Voluntary Action Center receives Title III Older Americans Act funding and State of Illinois General Revenue Funds through the Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging.

It is required that 35 percent of the funding comes from local shares, Zucker said.

TransVac provided 57,204 rides in Sycamore last year and a total of 85,235 rides in DeKalb County.

Meals on Wheels provided 15,905 meals in Sycamore in 2013, according to city documents.

“That service is meeting important needs for some of the most vulnerable citizens in the community,” Zucker said.

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