Neighbors helping neighbors: Volunteer driving program provides free rides
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When Pamela Disney called a taxi to transport her to her daily appointment with her doctor, insurance would pay for the trip however, it could take 2 hours before the taxi arrived. If she went into Concord Hospital on the bus and it took about 4 to 5 hours for a round trip, before returning back home Pittsfield.
In the meantime, Disney relies on the Community Action Program’s volunteer driver program to take her between and to meetings.
“I am grateful that I have it” she added. “Many times I might not have been able to ride.”
She’s disabled, and has numerous operations and screws inside her body. The severe sciatica is a source of pain for her legs. Her right feet is in an ankle boot following it was nearly amputated earlier in the past year. She walks with crutches around, but isn’t away from her home.
Disney isn’t a driver. She sold her license and car when the renewal cost was too expensive and the payments for repairs to her car were beyond her budget.
In the present, Cindy Brown, a former property tax administrator who retired from the state, drives Disney off on the red Nissan and takes her to appointments on a weekly basis.
“If I can aid anyone, I’m happy to help,” Brown said.
The program for volunteer drivers provides free transportation to individuals who are over 60 or who have disabilities within Belknap or Merrimack counties. It’s just one of the many services offered by Dual-County Community Action Program.
Brown was required to present proof of insurance for her car and sign up for an instructor-led defensive driving class to become volunteer, she stated.
Rosa Burt, the coordinator of the program, enlists volunteers as well as people who are in need of transportation.
Most often, volunteers learn about the program via the word of mouth She said.
For Brown she cited her own personal experience that inspired her to sign up.
Brown was a caregiver for an old widowed man, as she continued to work. He needed someone to transport his medical appointments and the program for volunteer drivers was recommended to him.
“I considered to myself “that’s an excellent service. When I retire , I’d like to be able to do that”” she added.
Following her retirement in the year 2016, Brown signed up as driver.
Sometimes, rides are one-way only. If a round trip is requested, Brown will run errands or stroll between pick up and drop off. up.
A schedule online allows her to know what trips are required every week, and she can choose her own timetables.
Disney first learned of the program nearly 15 years ago through the town’s welfare office.
The frequency that she attends her meetings has enabled the volunteer to couple with drivers. The volunteer Richard is able to save many thousands by taking she to the hospital rather than using an ambulance.
In a state that is aging with nearly 20 percent of people older than 65 years old, programs like these are crucial for the well-being and well-being of Granite State residents According to The New Hampshire Alliance for Healthy Aging.
The alliance that is a consortium of people who care about the well-being of the elderly population of New Hampshire, helps to get volunteers.
Through their own initiative for volunteer drivers that was launched in July, they’re helping couple interested drivers with local programs.
“When you are a volunteer for the local driver’s program for volunteers, you not only do you make a positive impact in helping your residents get to appointments and running errands but you’re helping them remain at home in their communities,” said Jennifer Rabalais who is the co-director of the Center on Aging and Community Living at the University of New Hampshire in an announcement.
The riders were able to make two trips per week, as per Disney. With the decline in volunteer participation the policy is now a one-a-week policy as of now.
If Disney cannot find a ride for her scheduled time and she’s unable to find one, she’ll usually decide to either cancel the ride or move it to another date. However, she’s happy with the rides she rides and Brown is willing to help.
“It’s an extremely rewarding and satisfying experience for myself,” Brown said. “The satisfaction of knowing that I’ve helped those who are unable to get there on their own due to reasons of any kind – they’re older, no longer able to drive or are suffering from an illness. It’s a great program.”
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