Conversation with Volunteer Driver George Publow June 23, 2011 as told to Co-ordinator Debbie Manlow.
When I asked George what brought him to Community Care as a volunteer he told me that he had been thinking about Volunteer Driving for some time. He had personal experience of driving his wife to medical appointments and thought there must be a lot of others who needed trips to appointments 'and I enjoy driving', he said. "It's a little like paying it forward."
George likes helping people out. "Overall Community Care is doing a lot. I talk to clients about that and that Community Care is helping people to be independent. "
George says that there are a number of experiences that stand out to him during his volunteer time with Community Care. "People are interesting and I get to meet a lot of very nice people."
What George enjoys most about being a Volunteer Driver is the escorting component. "It helps in building the relationships and clients are grateful for the extra assistance provided. Rather than leave someone at the door we help them find their way through the hospital. I've been to the hospitals and now know my way around."
George continues, saying, "from my perspective the Volunteer Driving Program is very well organized. The program strikes a good balance, people pay for the service; it's not just a freebee; this is a good thing. When financial needs arise Community Care can address that."
George said his experience with the staff of Community Care is very positive. "They are professional, well organized and always cheerful. .Everyone at Community Care is very concerned about client confidentiality", he said.
George felt that the volunteer intake process that Community Care has in place is "very appropriate for this day and to do less would probably be irresponsible." Completing the application, attending an interview and undergoing the police and reference check was no problem according to George.
Community Care values its volunteer's time and works with volunteers to make sure the experience works with their schedule. George told Debbie Manlow that he feels he can always tell the office staff that he is unavailable, without any regrets.
"The way you do it, alternating drivers and clients is good. It minimizes the possibility of personal attachment (beyond a healthy relationship) and maintains professional balance."
George said that when he started to tell friends of his experiences as a volunteer driver for Community Care that they wrongly thought that people had to have a low income to use the service. This is absolutely not the case, he tells everyone who will listen. Rather, the people who are clients of Community Care have bad eyesight or other health issues related to the aging process and this means that they require escorted transportation. It can sometimes also be that they can't find a friend (or whoever usually takes them) on a particular day to drive them.
There are benefits for the volunteer as well. George said that volunteer driving has had personal benefits. It has made him more aware of his own health and the importance of being proactive. For example, after several trips with seniors for eye appointments he realized it had been 2-3 yrs since he and his wife had their eyes tested, and was quick to make an appointment with a local optometrist .
In closing George said "I'm very happy with doing it and there is obviously a need in the community."