Stepping aboard the North End Grocery Shuttle is a bit like stepping into a social hall. It’s a chance to sit down, catch up and in this case, run errands.
Laurence Rosenberg started driving the shuttle four years ago after becoming compelled to help the North End Food Security Network.
“We were watching the news one night and saw a story on a young fellow who drove a minivan with three or four people once a week grocery shopping, but he couldn’t do it any longer,” Rosenberg said.
“So my wife and I decided we could buy a bus, I would learn how to drive the bus and we would volunteer the bus and ourselves once a week and help the community. We can take up to 33 passengers now.”
Each trip is free. Every Thursday, Rosenberg picks people up at six stops and takes them grocery shopping.
James Bullard’s medical condition makes walking difficult. He lives in the North End where grocery stores are sparse, so the bus has become his solution.
“The only couple stores near us are so expensive and then again, you’re walking a lot,” Bullard said.
The program aims to help seniors eat healthy and save money, while also showing youth how they can contribute to their community.
Once a week, the North End Food Security Network pays a young person $25 to join the seniors on the bus. Youth help carry groceries and make sure everyone who gets off the bus at the grocery store gets back on again.
North End Food Security Network Coordinator Jasmine Tara said it gives young people work experience.
“It gives them some skills and training on how to be with people,” Tara said.
Rosenberg said it’s nice to give back and know where the money he gives is going.
“I find as soon as I’m on the bus and I put my baseball cap on, I forget about everything else. I’m the bus driver and I just have a great afternoon,” Rosenberg said.