Friday, July 18, 2014

Cinematic Reflection

The Group Health Transportation Assistance Program, one of our valued partners, created a video that highlights many key elements of Volunteer Transportation.   When viewing it, we are reminded of: how much volunteer drivers love their unique role, the huge difference rides to doctor’s offices make in the lives of those who need them, the important social contact that takes place during rides, and the heartfelt appreciation clients express for the service. 

We’d like to share it with you here:


 
Perhaps someone out there in cyberspace will watch this video and feel inspired to serve as a volunteer driver right away!  Both Group Health and Volunteer Transportation are always in need of new volunteer volunteers.  Online applications for Volunteer Transportation can be found here.
 
Thursday, July 3, 2014

Client Profile: Mary Shadrick

Volunteer Transportation Client Tackles Hard Issues

Mary Shadrick, a Volunteer Transportation client for 21 years, never does anything halfheartedly.  Whether recreationally, politically, or professionally, Mary is never on the sidelines.  

Recently, the 86-year-old accumulated more activity points than anyone else in her Renton assisted living community.  With her regular participation in activities like Bid Whist, Bingo, Bunko, Rummikub, and exercise classes, Mary earned an impressive $30,000 of “money.”  This allowed her to purchase two watches and two necklaces at the facility’s auction.  These rewards illustrate her go-getter attitude and willingness to try new things. 

Active involvement is nothing new for Mary.  She was a dedicated participant at the Southeast Seattle Senior Center and became a lifetime member of the Central Area Senior Center after volunteering at its front desk for seven years.   The Bid Whist group that she started at the Central Area Senior Center continues to thrive.  She worked as a microbiology transcriber for the California Department of Health Services at UC Berkeley and served as a clerk for Judge W.J. Wilkins, renowned for his involvement in convicting leading Nazis in the Nuremberg trials.  

Even in difficult circumstances, Mary doesn’t hold back.  “I’ve always had to tackle the hard issues,” she says.  She became involved in local politics under the guidance of Sam J. Smith, a prominent black politician and civil rights activist.  She was the first and only African American in her role as clerk for Judge Wilkins, as well as the only African American in the microbiology department at Berkeley.   She speaks openly of the tokenism she encountered in these times and the prejudice she has experienced in more recent years.  “People don’t change overnight,” she explains.

But Mary doesn’t let these incidents get her down. She believes that she gets her strength from her mother, who was a strong role model for her seven children.  Mary also acknowledges the important role that her daughter plays in her life.   Her daughter gives her lots of important information to help her remain healthy, active, and well-informed.

Volunteer Transportation has been yet another source of support for Mary.   She hasn’t let challenges like giving up her car or moving to a new area prevent her from seeing her long-term Seattle doctors.  She often spreads the word about the program to other seniors who may need it and tells them, “It’s very reliable.  I’ve had good luck with the volunteer drivers; they are nice people.”   She can speak with conviction from her 21 years’ worth of experiences with the program.

It is clear that Mary Shadrick is fully empowered, ready to conquer any obstacle that gets in her way.

**Like Mary, you can jump right in to new and worthwhile activity: become a volunteer driver today! Drivers are needed throughout King County. Contact Hilary at hilaryc@seniorservices.org or (206)748-7588 to find out more.  
Friday, June 27, 2014

Positive Feedback

Today's pick-me-up comes from a letter we received from a long-term Volunteer Transportation client.  It reads:

I am extremely grateful for this very efficient and important service.  It has helped keep me healthy!  Staying independent is my main goal today & your service is very important in reaching that goal.  You're the best!  Safe and friendly drivers do a great job!


Safety, independence, health, friendliness, and client satisfaction-- she certainly summarizes all that we aspire to provide with our program!
Friday, June 13, 2014

Our Latest Call for Volunteers

VOLUNTEER DRIVERS NEEDED: GIVE MORE THAN RIDES

Getting to the doctor’s office can seem daunting for many local seniors.  Poor vision or medical conditions prevent them from driving; limited mobility makes it impossible to take the bus; taxis come with prohibitive costs; and loved ones have full-time jobs that render them unavailable to help.  Yet, since 1975, Senior Services’ Volunteer Transportation has served as a trustworthy resource for older adults throughout King County.  With its force of kind and reliable volunteers, the program provides the missing link between seniors and their necessary medical care.

But the value of Volunteer Transportation extends far beyond the rides themselves.  A volunteer driver serves as a friendly escort-- a companion-- someone to talk to along the way.  Volunteers turn previously stressful ordeals into pleasant, meaningful experiences.

You can help more seniors get “on the road” to improved health and peace of mind!  More volunteer drivers are needed throughout King County.  If you have a reliable vehicle, clean driving record, and some weekday availability, this is the role for you. Call (206) 748-7588, email Hilary at hilaryc@seniorservices.org, or visit www.seniorservices.org/transportation to find out more.  Discover why rides change lives!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Hyde Shuttle Passenger Profile: the Yamasaki's

Hyde Shuttle Helps Seniors Make the Most of Life
 
Frank and Sadie Yamasaki are regular passengers on the Hyde Shuttle, but, once upon a time, Frank was an art student who had grown tired of the standard, cookie cutter art subjects often selected by professors.   “An artist always looks for something interesting—something out of the ordinary,” he says.   Concurrently, Sadie was a young paralegal who’d been persuaded by her office co-workers to serve as a model for a Seattle art class.  “They told me they’d take me out for drinks afterward,” she explains.  She walked into Frank’s classroom and broke the mold of the typical art model—catching Frank’s eye.   Frank and Sadie have been married for 62 years.

“Interesting” is certainly a term that would describe Frank and Sadie’s many years together.   In their younger days, they filled their time with entertaining, ballroom dancing, involvement with the Buddhist community and family activities.  Frank even had the opportunity to serve as the Art Director of an Academy Award-winning documentary.   They shared a love of food, family, music, art, people and life.
The wheelchair lift makes it easy for Frank to take the shuttle,and Sid
 (volunteer driver) ensures that he is safe and steady as he boards.

But things have changed as they’ve grown older.  Frank is now 90, and Sadie is 83.  Six years ago, Sadie suffered a heart attack and fractured her hip shortly thereafter.  She wasn’t far into recovery when Frank had a stroke, significantly impacting his mobility and short-term memory.  Sadie was unable to lift his heavy walker in and out of her car, but she did not want to become like other senior couples who spend their days at home in the company of the television.  She didn’t want their lives to grow dull.

It was then that Frank and Sadie became committed riders of the Hyde Shuttle program.  They consistently take the shuttle to their Enhance Fitness class at the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center three days per week.   Sadie notes that the class helps with mobility and balance, but, more importantly, it’s about social interaction and community.   They have gotten to know many other seniors throughout the years, and Sadie is quick to add, “Everybody at the Center knows Frank by name!”

The transportation provided by the Hyde Shuttles is just one small-- yet integral— part of their weekly routine.  Sadie expresses much gratitude for the program and praises its volunteer drivers.  She describes them as helpful, thoughtful, friendly, skilled and outstanding.   She labels the program as a “lifesaver.”

Frank and Sadie have not allowed health challenges to take away all the vibrancy of their lives.  They are committed to staying as social and active as they can, and the Hyde Shuttles are there to help them along the way.  Their journeys have been full of many uncommon discoveries—including each other. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Commending Comments

Today, we'd like to share a few examples of the appreciative feedback that clients of Volunteer Transportation provided us via handwritten messages included in their service surveys.  We are fully aware of the true amazingness of our volunteer drivers and staff, but it's always nice to be reminded of the great value they hold in the lives of local seniors!
 
 
“Your services are very much appreciated.  Thank you very much.  You are an asset to people who need you.”

“Very kind, thoughtful and caring people in this program.  Many thanks to them.”

“SO DEPENDABLE.  THE PEOPLE I DEALT WITH WERE ALWAYS SO NICE, BOTH OVER THE PHONE AND IN PERSON.  I THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR HELP.  IT HAS MEANT A LOT TO ME.  YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST!!  HOW IN THIS WORLD COULD I NOT RECOMMEND YOU TO OTHERS??!!”

“I love all of you and am very grateful for your service.”

“Thanks so much & I hope the service lasts forever.”

“I’ve had nothing but great experiences.  I am so grateful & I spread the word to people who are thrilled to hear about it.  Before I was not able to see Dr’s that I really needed to.  I am so happy.”

“I’m so proud of you at Transportation.  May God always bless you.”

“I feel that the volunteers are among the nicest, most helpful people that I know.  Thank you all very much.  You make my life better.”

“I have no family here as they moved to the East coast 2 years ago, and many of my friends no longer drive.  I don’t like to impose on friends either and take up their time.  I don’t think I could continue to live here without Volunteer Transportation.”

“Thank God there are people out there who help other people.”

“Volunteer Transportation is my hero, NO ONE is better!”
Friday, May 9, 2014

Welcome, Kailan!

We'd like introduce you to our newest staff member, Kailan Tyler-Babkirk.  Kailan joined the Volunteer Transportation program as the South King County Coordinator last week, and we feel very fortunate to have her as a part of our team!

A Washingtonian through and through, Kailan was born in Seattle, grew up in Spokane, and spent the last several years living in Olympia-- where she graduated from The Evergreen State College with a BA in psychology and expressive arts.  She then worked in a retirement home as a receptionist and activities assistant where she led exercise classes, arts and crafts activities, and scheduled medical transportation. She has a passion for providing meaningful services to seniors and is thrilled to be part of Senior Services with their mission to promote the emotional, social, and physical well-being of aging adults.

In her spare time, Kailan loves painting, sewing, dancing, and hiking in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Recently, she has taken up the hobby of birding and looks forward to expanding her knowledge of NW birds. She is a member of the Seattle Joy Initiative and Compassionate Seattle and enjoys bringing a smile wherever she goes.

Kailan can be reached at kailant@seniorservices.org.

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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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