GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Families in West Michigan worked together to launch an app to help those with disabilities find a safe ride.
Kim Meyer was first inspired to launch the service as her daughter Kendra, 24, struggled to get around as an adult.
Kendra was diagnosed with autism at 3 and made her unable to obtain a driver's license. Living in Hudsonville, finding public transportation was nearly impossible and posed a challenge to Kendra as she tried to live her life to the fullest.
'GoLou' is a web-based service that allows riders to invite drivers to their pool. In Kendra's case, her drivers include friends and family that drive her to the grocery store, work and other types of appointments.
"The thought came to me as we just need some sort of tool for her to organize her drivers and for her to request a ride," says Kim.
The service makes it easier for riders to find drivers and communicate with a large group of people they already know. In essence, it makes scheduling rides easier than a group chat. In Kendra's case, she found group texting much more difficult and cumbersome than the app.
"Even things like going to the bank or going to the mall posed a challenge [for Kendra]," says her dad Kevin.
When a user does want to schedule a ride, they can submit the request with its time, pick-up location and final destination. The notification is then sent out to the pool of drivers within that riders network.
The web-based program took about a year and a half for Matt Burnell, the software designer, to create it.
"It seemed like a no-brainer to drive in and make this happen," says Burnell. "I think it's important, and I certainly want to be a part of something that is important."
The service launched officially about 2 months ago and a few dozen people are currently using it. With time, Burnell and the Meyer's hope it can serve hundreds more.
Together, the families are working on fundraising to create a downloadable app on iOS and Android devices. Based on quotes they've received, it could take as much as $150,000 dollars to produce an app with geo-tracking and other features to keep users safe.
If you would like to donate to the cause, you can learn more here. GoLou is a certified 501c organization.