Friday, August 8, 2014

Client Profile: Marie Trotignon

Volunteer Transportation Helps Writer Fight Vision Loss
Marie displays her three published books:
Dancing in the Rain: A Collection of Raindrops
and Rainbows, And He Shall Be Called Nicholas, and
The Dance of the Blue Crab.
In Dancing in the Rain: A Collection of Raindrops and Rainbows, author Marie Trotignon reflects on the endurance and resilience of the human spirit.  Marie uses each unique vignette to poignantly demonstrate how we can cope with life’s storms by learning to dance in the rain.

Dancing in the Rain is one of Marie’s three published books, but the 84-year-old has been writing stories ever since she learned to write.  Writing is a constant in her life; it is her talent, her solace, her joy.  Her love for words runs deep. 

Marie is also a passionate reader.  She has held many different jobs over the years, but her favorite was when she was an elementary school librarian.  She knew every book in the school and could make recommendations for children of all ages.

Yet, in one of life’s unfair ironies, Marie developed macular degeneration several years ago.  At first, it allowed her to continue on with her normal routines and activities.  But it progressed and soon caused words to disappear or turn into mumbo jumbo on pages.  Writing became a challenge, and reading was nearly impossible.  She struggled to make sense of words.

Losing her vision has been difficult hurdle for Marie to get over, but she is determined.  She says, “Books have always been my love, and it’s hard not to read a book.  Books are sitting around here waiting to be read.  I’d like to find something to help me. ” Marie’s treatment plan includes getting shots in her eyes every two weeks.  This process is far from enjoyable, but she is willing to do whatever it takes to hold on to as much sight as she can. 

Just like the characters of her book, Marie looks on the bright side of this unpleasant process.   One of the silver linings of the injection ordeal is meeting the Volunteer Transportation drivers who take her to/from her eye appointments.   She says, “I just can’t praise the program enough.  The volunteers are such nice people.  They are friendly, competent, and qualified.  I’ve enjoyed meeting each and every one of them.”

As a story enthusiast, Marie also values learning about the lives of the volunteer drivers as they chat during the rides.   She reports, “They are comfortable conversations.  It doesn’t feel awkward with any of them.”   Each person has a story to share.

Marie still writes daily and attends a writing feedback group once or twice per week.  Like all authors, she has many ideas about her next projects, but she never knows where they’ll end up.  She explains, “You sit down with something in mind, but then it writes itself.  Your characters come to life.  They lead, and you have to follow them. ”

Marie’s life has unfolded in a similarly unpredictable fashion.  There have been bumps and storms.  But Marie is still dancing.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Client Profile: Phyllis Peterson

Volunteer Transportation Provides Independence for Issaquah Senior
87-year-old Phyllis Peterson has lived in Issaquah for over 25 years and has watched the city grow abundantly within that time.  When Phyllis first moved to Issaquah’s Providence Point, she was much younger and healthier.  Her only appointments were routine checkups and dental cleanings twice a year.  On those rare occasions when she had appointments, Phyllis did not worry about anyone else’s schedule because she was able to drive herself.   Phyllis drove herself to and from her medical appointments for the next 15 years.

That all changed the day she suffered from a stroke.  Her calendar soon filled with appointments that she couldn’t reach.  Her children were willing to assist her as much as they could, but she knew she could not expect her kids to take care of her for the rest of her life.   She states, “I lost my
independence the day I sold my car.”  She was determined to find a way to stay independent.

“It’s funny what can come up in random conversations,” she says.  Phyllis remembers talking to her neighbor at Providence Point over 10 years ago about a transportation program she used to help her with her medical appointments.  Her neighbor explained how volunteers used their own cars and would pick her up at home, wait for her to finish with her appointment, and bring her home. 

Phyllis thought it over and realized this program could be the solution to her problem.  She could still get to all her appointments without asking her family to take time away from work.  She could keep her independence just by asking for a little assistance.  All Phyllis had to do was call Senior Services.          

For the past 10 years, Phyllis has become well versed in asking for transportation assistance.  “I know the rules of the program, and they are very simple to follow.”  She now recommends Volunteer Transportation to others who are going through the same situation as she did 10 years ago.  Phyllis states, “I know what it’s like to worry.  With Volunteer Transportation, all the drivers have been on time, kind, and courteous.  I don’t know what I would do without them.”

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 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


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, or visit 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. 



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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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