BATH – It’s a drizzly January day, a little after 9 a.m., and Judy Myers and Hazel Laughlin are waiting under their apartment complex roof for a ride to the stores.

“I don’t know what I’d do without this,” Laughlin said. “No, really, I don’t.” As the Steuben County Office for the Aging “Easy Rider” van pulls up, the women’s smiles grow wider, matched by the warm smile of the van driver Marie DeRosa.

A joint service through the county OFA and Department of Social Services for the past two years, the van transports seniors from around the county on a regular weekly schedule to stores in their local vicinity. And for seniors, without vehicles or nearby relatives, the van is the only no-cost transportation around.

In addition to routes in Bath, DeRosa drives regular bus routes in the cities of Corning and Hornell, Painted Post and in the Pulteney-Prattsburgh area.

Those needs may be as simple and basic as getting out of the house and socializing with their friends, DeRosa said.

“They like to think of me as their chauffeur,” she said. “I guess in a way I am.”

DeRosa prides herself on her chauffeur-like service, gently and carefully helping her passengers board the van as if they were precious cargo. And when the shopping is done, she not only helps unload bags of groceries from the van – if needed – she’ll carry them to the front door.

The van also is one of the most little-known and unused services in Steuben, she said. Pointing back to four unoccupied seats she said,” I don’t know why more people don’t use this. They don’t know about it, I guess.”

DeRosa has accepted another time-consuming job in the area and will be turning the van keys over to someone else next month.

Steuben County Office for the Aging Director Patty Baroody praised DeRosa’s contribution and said the job is an important element in services to the county’s aging residents.

“It’s more than just a van driver, but a driver that makes social connections with riders offering compassion and sensitivity while getting to know and support the passengers in their daily challenges,” Baroody said

For more information on the program, and how to sign up for rides, call 664-2298.