Friday, November 21, 2014

Client Profile: Audrey L.

Volunteer Transportation Helps Senior Adjust and Adapt to New Life

When Audrey lived in Kyoto for a year, she was a very particular shopper.  Storekeepers listened patiently as she used great detail to describe the precise item she sought-- stipulating its size, colors, shape, and design.  But Audrey really wasn’t picky, and her true purpose was not to purchase something specific.  Audrey shopped to learn.   She used these daily excursions to practice her Japanese vocabulary and become more fully immersed in the culture that surrounded her.

Japan is just one of the diverse locations that Audrey has called home.   She has also lived in New York, Germany, Taiwan, and Kansas.  She has a strong sense of adventure; she loves learning; and she has a deep appreciation for the arts.  She lives fully, no matter where she resides.

Audrey moved to Redmond three years ago.  She sorted through the countless things that filled the home she’d shared with her late husband, donated her beloved piano to a local nonprofit organization, packed up all of the meaningful artwork she’d collected over the years, and left Kansas behind.  She was eager to see her grandchildren more often; she was ready to open up a new chapter of her life in Western Washington.  
Audrey’s Redmond home is full of art—including paintings,
carvings, sculptures, and figurines—reflecting her many
experiences.  “Everything has a story,” she states.
“These are my life, my memories.” 

Audrey attempted to adjust and adapt to her new environment—as she had always done.  But it wasn’t so easy this time.  The process of downsizing and relocating after the loss of her husband was much more difficult than she’d imagined.  She explains, “It was very, very traumatic.  Frankly, I just wasn’t myself for the first two years.”  

Audrey discovered Volunteer Transportation as she transitioned to her new life in Redmond.  She was afraid to drive longer distances, and her dentist’s office informed her that the program’s volunteer drivers could take her to her appointments in Seattle, Bellevue, and Kirkland.  She was delighted. 

The volunteer drivers have been very welcoming and kind to Audrey.  She enjoys their conversations during rides, and she doesn’t know what she’d do without the program.  She makes an effort to tell each and every volunteer how much she appreciates their help. Audrey says, “I tell them how important their volunteer work is—that it’s a wonderful contribution to our community.”  She adds, “It’s a great service, and it’s much, much needed.” 

Audrey, who is now 82, credits Volunteer Transportation for helping her to feel more at home in the Pacific Northwest.  Starting anew was not easy, and it took some time to get her bearings straight.  But Audrey is her determined, creative, and curious self once again.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day Tribute

We are honored to have many veterans (and family members of veterans) involved in our programs-- both as clients and as volunteers. On this Veterans Day, we stop to reflect on the purpose of this federal holiday, as described by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954: “to solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom.”

KCTS 9, our local PBS affiliate, has produced many informative and compelling Veterans Day pieces.  Their work includes many stories about local veterans, many of which mirror those shared with us by people involved in Senior Services' Transportation Program.   We’d like to share them with you via this link.  Please check them out.

We salute all veterans (and those who sacrificed along with them) for their honorable service and invaluable contributions to our country!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Greetings

It’s Halloween!  In honor of this special occasion, we’d like to share a festive display made for us by a Volunteer Transportation client:
It's a full-sized poster featuring all of the Halloween standbys, as well as Tweety Bird and Daffy Duck.  Amazing!

The text reads: Dear Cindy & staff, We really appreciate the rides you have provided for us throughout the year.  The drivers and your staff are so courtous [sic] and caring.  Hope the poster isn’t too scary.”  --The Caplan’s
The artist of this creative masterpiece is 85-year-old Meyer Caplan, who regularly receives rides from our volunteer drivers with his wife, Doris.  It must be noted that Meyer used no stencils or tracing paper to create these whimsical cartoon drawings; they were all carefully drawn by hand and patiently colored with impeccable precision.  Meyer says, “When you retire and you don’t have anything to do, you go nuts!  This has become my hobby.  I’ve been doing it for quite a few years now.”  He sends out similar posters to family and friends for all holidays and birthdays; he even reports that we can expect to receive another unique artistic message for Thanksgiving.  We can’t wait!
Meyer and Doris are very grateful for Volunteer Transportation.  He adds, “The drivers are so caring and just wonderful people.”  We are happy to display his token of appreciation in our office.

Our staff is lookin' good!

On that note, we wish you HAPPY HALLOWEEN from all of the “jolly jack-o-lanterns” at Senior Services’ Transportation Program (including “Chief Pumpkin,” Cindy; Lead Scheduler, Donald; Eastside and West Seattle Scheduler, Amy; and South King County Scheduler, Kailan)!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pained but Positive

Life is challenging for Barbara.  At 86, her body isn’t what it used to be.  She's had both knees replaced; she has a herniated disc in her back; and she suffers from extreme sciatic nerve pain.  She often feels overwhelmed and out of sorts.  “Sometimes, it’s like we’re drowning in everything.  All we want to do is just lie down,” she says as she talks about how she and her 88-year-old husband, Charles, spend their time. 

But the two of them still manage to get out and about.  Barbara and Charles both have frequent medical appointments, and they rely on Volunteer Transportation drivers to get them to clinics and home safely again.

Barbara didn’t feel up for an interview at this time, but she was very clear over the phone that she had a message to share with all those involved with the Volunteer Transportation program: “It has been tough to lose our independence, but you have made it easier.  It is an awesome program, and I think everyone who is a part of it is awesome.  I really do.  I can’t imagine life without it.” 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Accepting Help

When seniors first sign up for Volunteer Transportation, they frequently express a sense of relief to have discovered the program.  They are eager to receive rides from our volunteer drivers and thankful to have the service available to them.   Their spirits are high. 

But this is not always the case. Often times, there’s a sense of reluctance as seniors prepare to become Volunteer Transportation clients.  They are hesitant, even resistant, to register for the program.  Family members sometimes clue us in to their states of mind, “My dad really did not want me to contact you guys!  He is just so stubborn.”

It’s more than just stubbornness that prevents clients from embracing our transportation services with open arms.  Accepting help is hard.  Our society generally frowns upon those who can’t manage things on their own; independence is a fierce American value.

Anne Togher of Philips Lifeline also reminds us of the generational factors at play.  She writes, “Most seniors today are part of the generation called the Traditionalists, or the Silent Generation,
and the way they grew up is considerably different than the generations following them and the generations serving them. They are the generation who experienced some part of the Great Depression, they worked hard, stayed in their jobs for decades, and saved their money. Their values include sacrifice, loyalty and contributing to the collective good. Asking for help has not been part of their vocabulary and accepting it is even harder.”

It is important for us to acknowledge that, especially initially, clients of our program may come to us from this place of ambivalence.  It may not have been easy for them to reach out to us at Volunteer Transportation, but we hope that they will be forever grateful that they did. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Volunteer Transportation in AgeWise King County

The October edition of AgeWise King County features a thoughtful reflection about Volunteer Transportation.  You may recognize the three clients it describes from their more detailed profiles found on this blog.  Check it out by clicking here!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Client Praise

Our quote of the week comes from Rose S., an 87-year-old client from Bellevue who has used Volunteer Transportation for 11 years:

“You have a wonderful group of people. I'm so happy I found you. I can't begin to tell you how much I respect and appreciate you. Your program is a wonderful, wonderful support for people like me… I am eternally grateful. To find people like you is reassuring… I tell everyone that you are my guardian angels."

Our "angelic" volunteer drivers are happy to be a source of support for seniors like Rose.



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“Behind the Wheel” offers stories, reflections, news, and updates about Senior Services’ Transportation Program. Throughout King County, our inspiring volunteers provide needed mobility to local seniors, supporting them in their efforts to remain independent, healthy, and happy. Please drop by to read more about the unique experiences of our volunteers, clients, and staff!
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