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Monday, February 4, 2013

Transportation Services: A Unique Volunteer Experience

Volunteering as a driver for the Red Cross takes commitment, the willingness to face a challenge, and, of course, a love for the open road. But for seniors who rely on the volunteers who comprise the American Red Cross' Transportation Services, their weekly ride to the pharmacy or the grocery store is much more than a way to get from point A to point B. It is a vital connection to their independence and their community, thanks to the trusted volunteer in the driver's seat. And for that volunteer, the ride fosters an enduring relationship unique between the passengers and drivers of the program.


Louise Thompson, a driver for the Mile High Chapter, said her decision to start volunteering with the program was based on her elderly mother-in-law's reliance on the service. Louise said the benefits are well worth the daily challenges of traffic and route-planning. As a volunteer driver, Thompson has gained the enduring friendship of the seniors on her route, including one client who will turn 101 this month. “She's just gotten to be a really good friend, I just love her to death. She's quite an inspiration,” she said. “It's amazing what nice people you meet when you're doing something like this.”

“Red Cross volunteer drivers enable seniors to maintain their quality of life and stay in their homes as long as possible,” said Richard Zendejas, Transportation Administrator for the Mile High Chapter. He added that volunteers tell him “they get so much more out of it than they put into it. The clients are very appreciative of somebody who would give up eight hours of their day to take them places. They hear a lot of great stories.”

Using a fleet of Red Cross vehicles driven by volunteers, the Transportation program offer a way for ambulatory seniors to get access to important appointments and shopping trips. Volunteer drivers have been a part of the Red Cross service portfolio for generations. Currently, the Boulder region is facing a shortage of volunteer drivers.

Volunteers are desperately needed to meet the transportation needs of Boulder-area seniors “Six months ago, I had a good 12 volunteers, now I'm down to four. It's definitely put a dent in our armor,” In the words of Transportation Specialist Vonnie Kresge, a volunteer driver must be “someone who has compassion for the senior community, somebody who is flexible, and just an all-around good person.” If you live in Boulder County and are interested in becoming a volunteer driver for the Red Cross, please call 303-607-4764 or e-mail Richard.Zendejas@redcross.org.

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