Monday, August 10, 2015

Welcome, Claire

Claire
Claire McDaniel joined the Volunteer Transportation staff on July 21st as the program’s intrepid Administrative Assistant. She is very busy learning all of the intricate behind-the-scenes work necessary to make our program the well-oiled machine it is today!

After 20 years in Seattle as an administrative professional in the corporate world, Claire was ready to make the move to a nonprofit where she can do more meaningful work. Senior Services was just what she was looking for! Before joining us, her most fulfilling position was the four years she spent at Seattle Housing Authority as Executive Assistant to the Director of Communications. Claire saw how much low income housing residents appreciated the opportunity to live in safe, affordable and comfortable communities. While studying Sociology at San Jose State University, she learned not only about how society shapes each of us, but also how individuals can shape society. We are all connected; therefore, lending a helping hand to even one of us benefits us all.
Ophelia

In her spare time, Claire enjoys hanging out at home in Ballard with her adorable Calico cat, Ophelia. Her favorite neighborhood spot is the botanical garden at the Locks, where she can sit under a tree and listen to the birds. Another of her interests is traveling, especially trips to New Orleans, Louisiana and Paris, France. She loves to read on her Kindle, too. Lately, she has been making her way through the 10 book series about Detective Kurt Wallander by Swedish author, Henning Mankell.

We are so excited to have Claire on our team! We know that she will keep Volunteer Transportation running smoothly and efficiently with her thoughtfulness, organization, and attention to detail.

 She can be reached at clairem@seniorservices.org.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Client Profile: Fern Malavaceo

Volunteer driver, Reta Beals, escorts Fern to an appointment.
71-year-old Fern Malavaceo does not know what she’d do without Volunteer Transportation.  Forty years ago, she decided that driving was not for her.  It caused her great anxiety, especially after she’d had multiple harrowing experiences behind the wheel on freeways in the rain.  She relied on her kids to take her to appointments when they could, but she often felt stuck when they were unavailable.  She registered for Volunteer Transportation three years ago and says, “The program is such a blessing!”

For Fern, Volunteer Transportation is about comfort and familiarity.  She explains, “The drivers are awesome!  They are so considerate.  They’re like family members to me.”  She loves how volunteers typically wait for her as she’s in an appointment and reports that she always feels supported throughout the whole process.

Fern (and others like her) make it clear that volunteer drivers have an amazing ability to ease stress and calm nerves.  They bring Zen to the art of giving rides.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Welcome, Kaitlin

The Volunteer Transportation program is incredibly pleased to welcome Kaitlin Sovich as its new Eastside/West Seattle Coordinator.  She is the perfect fit for this rewarding/challenging role!

Kaitlin, a native Floridian, grew up in Southwest Florida on the Gulf Coast. While in high school, her first job as a dining services and events associate at an assisted living community taught her that she wants to spend her career making the lives of seniors the best that they can be. She has looked forward to working with seniors again ever since leaving that job to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL in 2009. While at UF, she sought out work in a research lab focusing on memory and aging, and upon graduating with her B.A. in anthropology and sociology in May 2013, she went to work for the UF College of Medicine as a Research Coordinator in the Department of Health Outcomes and Policy.  After six happy years in Gainesville, in July 2015, Kaitlin and her partner moved to Seattle for new opportunities in life and work. Kaitlin is very excited to have joined the Volunteer Transportation team at Senior Services and finds working with seniors in this capacity to be dynamic and fulfilling.

In her spare time, Kaitlin enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cat, exploring her neighborhood, and spending time with her partner and friends in this incredible city.

We know that all Volunteer Transportation clients and staff will love working with Kaitlin as she uses her skills and talents to breathe life into the program!  Feel free to drop her a line at kaitlins@seniorservices.org.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Helpfulness: A Word Reflection

Helpful is a word we hear over and over again in our office.  Seniors often call in and say, “My volunteer driver yesterday was so helpful.”  Our volunteers tell us that they find meaning and purpose in being helpful to seniors in need of assistance; “I like to be helpful,” they say.  It’s a word used so frequently that it has almost become ubiquitous. 

A quick Google search of the term produces the following:

help·ful
ˈhelpfəl/
adjective
1.      giving or ready to give help."people are friendly and helpful"
synonyms:
obliging, eager to please, kind, accommodating, supportive, cooperative; sympathetic, boosterish, neighborly, charitable

This Google definition provides us with other terms to describe our “helpful” volunteers: obliging, eager to please, kindaccommodatingsupportivecooperativesympatheticboosterishneighborly, and charitable.  All have slightly different connotations, yet they all are fitting descriptions of our volunteers.

No matter which adjective we use (no thesaurus necessary), it’s clear is that our volunteer drivers are amazing and much-appreciated!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Saying Thanks

This card arrived to our office earlier this week.
Clients of our transportation programs express gratitude in many ways.  Although we don’t expect or solicit appreciation, hearing “thank you” reminds our employees and volunteers of the value of our work.   

Our staff recently received a thank you note (that included a token of appreciation) from Gail, a regular client of Volunteer Transportation.  We can’t share the treats that she provided with everyone, but we’d love to share her message with all of you: 
It reads:

Dear Donald, Amy, Kailan & all others in the office whose names I don’t know & who also deserve thanks!!
Thank you all so much for helping me these last few years—you’ve been kind & helpful & patient – and you have all worked hard to find me many, many rides!
Here’s a mid-year treat I hope you all can share—
Cheers & gratitude—
Gail

In the spirit of gratitude, we’d like to publicly thank Gail for her thoughtful surprise! 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Program Poetry

It's time for some creativity!  Here are some reflective haikus about the typical Volunteer Transportation experience for your enjoyment:

Haiku 1
Gently and swiftly,
The car moves. The people chat.
The ride brings relief.


Haiku 2
Riding together,
They talk. They laugh. They relax.
Nerves wane as wheels spin.


Who knew it would be so difficult to sum up the essence of our program in 5-7-5 syllables?!!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Small World Story: Reconnecting with Long-term Family Friends

Auburn circa 1920.
When Lee (volunteer driver) took Marie and Roy Petersen to an eye doctor appointment, they certainly had a lot to talk about!  Marie and Roy, both 93, have known Lee and his family for many decades, and they’d often crossed paths in Auburn.   Marie had frequently volunteered for various community programs with Lee’s mother, Elaine, and Lee had carpeted the Petersen’s home and cabin for over thirty years prior to his recent retirement.  Marie was happy to see a familiar face and commented, “It was so nice to see him again!”

Lee, Marie and Roy all know a lot of local history.  Lee was born and raised in Auburn; Marie moved to Auburn in 1943; and Roy was born in Algona (Auburn’s neighbor) in 1921.  Community involvement is important to all of them.  Although they’ve seen the area change a great deal over the years, their reconnection demonstrates that Auburn still can have that “small town” feel at times.

The Volunteer Transportation program is full of such serendipitous reunions, and volunteers and clients often discover many commonalities.  This inspires a possible new tagline for the program:  See what worlds collide during a ride!

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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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