In the Community

Community Partner Highlight: Elaine’s Rides Transform Lives

October 17, 2023

Elaine is a local nonprofit organization driven by the power to transform lives one ride at a time. Serving those within a 15-mile radius of their office in Downtown Phoenix, Elaine provides safe and reliable transportation at no cost to some of the most vulnerable populations, like people experiencing homelessness.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona Foundation for Community & Health Advancement (the Foundation) is a proud partner of Elaine, providing grant funding to increase Elaine’s capacity to serve members of our community who need it most.

“People experiencing homelessness often don’t have access to critical resources like food, housing, and appointments,” Samantha Johnson, Elaine's Program Manager said. “Even just going to the DMV to get an ID - having access to those services is critical for getting out of homelessness and without transportation, it’s just impossible.”

Whether it’s a housing or doctor’s appointment, job interview, support group, or a ride to the laundromat, Elaine helps individuals get from point A to point B for free. It may sound simple, but it can make the difference between someone being unhoused and unemployed to working and thriving with a home to call their own. One of Elaine’s Community Health Drivers, Russell, witnesses these life transformations first-hand as he forms bonds with and breaks barriers for his passengers.

“I do a whole lot more than driving, I build relationships with clients,” Russell said. “Not only are we dropping them off, but we're also getting a glimpse into their lives and what their needs are. A simple ride to the grocery store can mean the world to them, and it means the world to us for sure.”

The stories below capture how the Foundation funding supports Elaine’s work and helps change lives.

Impact in action

Here are a just few examples of the many lives impacted by Elaine.

Jeanette and Joseph

Elaine transported this couple back and forth to the housing department numerous times to complete steps for potential housing placement. After waiting patiently for months, Jeanette and Joseph finally received the good news that they were approved for an apartment. Elaine then coordinated transportation for move-in day and helped them get all their belongings into their new home.


Joseph came across Elaine when they were assisting another individual. He explained to one of the drivers that his cell phone and wallet with all his important documents were stolen. Elaine immediately jumped into action – providing him with a ride to the bank to get his accounts squared away. Elaine additionally gave him access to a phone so he could contact his employer with updated banking information and continue to get paid.


Scott fell on hard times and said transportation was his biggest obstacle. With Elaine’s support, he was able to move from a shelter to a group home. He made great strides but still needed basic necessities. Elaine provided him with rides to food banks to get free food boxes and clothing to help him get back on track.


A woman waved down an Elaine driver after reading the signage on the car that reads “Transportation for the Homeless.” She explained that she had just gotten out of the hospital and desperately needed to get to work on time or she might lose her job. The Elaine driver reassured her it would be okay, helped put her walker in the trunk, and drove her to work. It turned out to only be a 10-minute drive, reinforcing how much a simple ride can make a difference in a person's day and even change their life.

While we often focus on the ‘end results’ of these rides, like housing and employment, Elaine strives to emphasize the importance of transportation access as a success in its own right.

“I’ve been, technically, homeless myself and without transportation,” Johnson said tearfully. “I understand what it’s like for people in that situation to have no options, and now that I’m in a position to help, I do everything I can to make sure Arizonans have options. Everybody struggles and goes through hard times. Circumstances can change suddenly and it’s not your fault. We have to be there for each other.”

Elaine was a 2022 Foundation grantee. The Foundation recognizes that transportation is a social driver of health (SDOH), meaning a lack of reliable transportation can impact a person’s overall health and quality of life, and continues to support Elaine in promoting health equity.

To learn more about Elaine's services and how you can support its mission, visit: ELAINE (