Friday, April 11, 2014

“12th Man” Celebration

Today marks the end of National Volunteer Week – a nationally designated time to celebrate the contributions and resources that community volunteers provide.  Although we attempt to express appreciation to our volunteers all 52 weeks of the year, it’s a wonderful reminder to all of us of the work and support that our volunteers bring to both the Volunteer Transportation and Hyde Shuttle programs.

With the help of the City of Auburn, we had the opportunity to recognize some of our volunteer drivers who serve older Auburn residents.  We attended a special luncheon entitled “Auburn Volunteers: Our 12th Man” that featured food, decorations, activities, and guest speakers all with a Seahawks motif.  With lots of “12th man” references, the event showcased volunteer contributions within the Auburn community and provided organizations with a way to say “thanks” to their precious volunteers.

Special guests at the event included: Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus, Miss Teen Auburn, Phil Bates-- #13 and a Wide Receiver with the Seahawks, Miss Auburn, and Christian from the Sea Gals.
Hilary (Volunteer Transportation staff member), Bruce (volunteer driver), Katie (volunteer driver), and Frank (volunteer driver) greatly enjoyed the luncheon.

In line with the “12th man” theme, organizations were asked to create and perform a cheer honoring their volunteers.  We quickly came up with the following:

Give me a D!
(“D!”)
D is for Dedicated because our drivers never fail to be there!
Give me an R
(“R!”)
R is for Respectful because they treat seniors with care!
Give me an I!
(“I!”)
I is for Important because they help folks in need!
Give me a V!
(“V!”)
V is for Valuable because transportation is precious indeed!
Give me an E!
(“E!”)
E is for Empathetic because our drivers always understand.
Give me an R!
(“R!”)
R is for Ready because our drivers are ready to lend a hand!
What does that spell? 
DRIVER! 
Our drivers are super, fabulous, and great!
They are very easy to appreciate!!
Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo drivers!!!!
(Insert back flip here).

Happy National Volunteer Week to all!
 
Friday, April 4, 2014

HONORABLE SERVICE: Volunteer Drivers Serve Veteran

When the bombs began to drop on Pearl Harbor, 22-year-old Joe Mathias was on the bridge of the Case-DD370, a destroyer ship dismantled for repairs, looking toward the navy yard and waiting to instruct his fellow navy crew members to commence the Morning Colors Ceremony.  But his life, and the course of history, changed in an instant as the explosions interrupted his daily duties as Messenger to the Quartermaster. 

Joe stayed focused amidst the commotion.  As he carried a heavy box of ammunition across the ship, he was so close to Japanese fighter planes that he could see their pilots in the cockpits.  Later that evening, after engineers had fixed the Case-DD370 to allow it to move again, Joe and the rest of the crew received orders to drop a 600-pound canister of dynamite on a Japanese submarine that had been spotted in the harbor.  Joe has since read many reports about Pearl Harbor, but he says, “I’ve never seen that part in the history books!  And most of the stories that have been published aren’t the ones I know.”

Joe has an uncanny ability to lucidly recall details—names, dates, facts, foods, numbers, descriptions— from many events of his life.  He recounts his experiences from the Attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 as if they were yesterday, and he shares other stories from his youth, years in the navy, and adulthood with equally rich narration.  As he describes a bombardment while stationed on Attu in the Aleutian Islands, the suspense is palpable. 

But Joe also shares less dramatic pieces of his life.  He talks of becoming paralyzed due to Guillain-Barre Syndrome in 1968 and of his wife’s struggles with Alzheimer’s Disease prior to her death in 2007.  His life has been full of all sorts of unexpected challenges—each calling for a different type of bravery.

Joe is now 95, and he often uses the Volunteer Transportation program for needed rides.  The volunteer drivers who take him to/from medical appointments have the privilege of listening to his wide-ranging and vivid accounts.  It is an honor to learn from someone with such a repertoire of life experiences, and meeting people like Joe is what makes driving with the Volunteer Transportation program such a meaningful and enjoyable activity.  As Joe talks, it is easy to see the spirit of a young sailor infusing the true tales of this animated veteran.

This is 21-year-old Joe at Boot Camp in Great Lakes, Illinois.  As he shows this photo,
he chuckles and recalls seeing a sign that read, "Sailors and dogs, keep off the grass!" 
Joe's dog tags hang from his wall.  He explains the rather morbid purpose of
the ridges found at the end of them"They're placed into the teeth of
a dead man to identify him!" he says.
Joe holds onto a photo montage featuring many key ingredients of his life,
 including pictures with his wife (Phyllis) and images of the Case-DD370.  Ever the
storyteller, Joe quickly jumps into detailed descriptions of items and events
depicted in the collage. 
Friday, March 28, 2014

"Singing" Praises

Today's post is a creative attempt to express our deep appreciation to all of our fabulous volunteer drivers.  Please imagine our staff singing together-- with impeccable pitch, in perfect unison, with much grandiosity and heartfelt spirit.  Please also envision some stellar accompanying dance moves.


The tune to this song is "Rubber Duckie" from Sesame Street.  It has come to our attention that many folks are unfamiliar with this classic song, so you can first get a taste of the tune here.  Please also feel free to create your own melody.

So, without further ado, here is our little ditty for your entertainment (clearing vocal chords):

Volunteer drivers, we love you!
You are heroes through and through.
Volunteer drivers, you’re lifesavers, it’s true!
(woh woh, bee doh!)

Volunteer drivers, we send you praise.
You brighten seniors’ days.
Volunteer Drivers, you’re amazing in oh-so-many ways!
(doo doo dooooo, doo doo)

(DIFFERENT TUNE JUST FOR THIS VERSE)
Oh, when a senior
is feeling lonely and melancholy,
you take them for a ride
and then they feel energized and jolly!
(drive-a-drive-drive!)

Volunteer drivers, you’re so great.
You are hardly ever late.
Volunteer drivers, you are easy to appreciate!
(Yeah yeah yeah yeah)

 (CHORUS BUT DIFFERENT LAST LINE)
Volunteer drivers, we love you!
You are heroes through and through.
Volunteer drivers, we just wanted to say “THANK YOU!”
OPTIONAL: (you, you, you, you!)

We hope that you have enjoyed our musical message of thanks.  We are determined to never run out of ways to tell our volunteer drivers how grateful we are for all that they do!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Volunteer in the Limelight: Robert Cuffel

Just a couple short months ago, Robert Cuffel became the newest member of our Hyde Shuttle Volunteer Driver team in Des Moines.  We were all elated to have him on board, as the program was (and still is) in great need of additional drivers.  Robert seamlessly adjusted to his new role with a wonderful can-do attitude and has already become an invaluable part of the Hyde community. 

Therefore, we thought it might be nice to hear his fresh perspectives as the “new kid on the block.”  He provided us with the following responses about his experiences as a volunteer shuttle driver thus far:
  • What made you decide to become a Hyde Shuttle volunteer driver?  As a retiree, I wanted to give back to our community.  There is a great need.
  • What do you enjoy most about serving as a driver thus far? The clients are wonderful.  I feel fortunate helping out.
  • What has been the most interesting part of this volunteer job? The most interesting and challenging part was to become familiar with the addresses.  I generally drive to familiar locations without taking note of the addresses.  It was somewhat humbling to view driving in this new context.
  • Why do you think this is such a needed service in our community? People are very busy with the demands of their jobs, families and friends.  In my case, I wasn't aware of how the great the need is.
  • Is there anything that you’ve learned or reflected about because of your role of volunteer driver that you’d like to share with us? How very fortunate I and my family are to have independence and good health to enjoy. 
Thank you to Robert for so quickly and thoughtfully jumping into the world of the Hyde Shuttles!  We hope that he continues to enjoy his service with the program for years to come, and that many others join this admirable team as well.
Friday, March 14, 2014

Viva Volunteers Fair 2014

And now for a few words from one of our sponsors!  The Viva Volunteers Fair is one of many opportunities that has been presented to us to find much-needed volunteer drivers, and we’ll be there spreading the word about the amazing joys and rewards of serving with Volunteer Transportation in just a few short weeks.  If you live on the Eastside, please drop on by!

Here is more information about the event:
Do you want to get involved in volunteer work, but haven’t found the right program?   Viva Volunteers! Fair  on Saturday, April 5 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at Peter Kirk Community Center is just what you need – and it’s free.

You will learn about a wide variety of volunteer programs by chatting with people who have worked in them.  In addition, there will be short presentations on current hot topics and demonstrations of cooking, flower arranging, and Zumba® dancing.  Every half hour, we’ll give out door prizes donated by local businesses.  We’ll also have free snacks and coffee for you to enjoy while you visit the exhibits.
Viva Volunteers! is presented for people of all ages by the Kirkland Senior Council. 

We're looking forward to it.  It's always uplifting to meet others who love volunteering as much as we do!
Friday, March 7, 2014

Momentia!

This handout was produced by Seattle residents
with early-stage dementia.
In our various roles within Senior Services’ Transportation Program, we often come across seniors living with dementia.   This can be challenging and upsetting for us to encounter, and our hearts go out to those grappling with their new memory-related struggles of daily living.

 Yet, a local program (often given the name of “Momentia”) attempts to de-stigmatize dementia and remind us of the many gifts seniors with Alzheimer’s disease have to offer.  The positive spirit and hope of Momentia are very inspiring, and participants are emboldened and empowered by its various offerings.  Hence, we’d like to share more about this program with you today.

Marigrace Becker offers lively and descriptive reflections about Momentia on the ChangingAging blog.  She proclaims,
This, together, is Momentia. A new story told most compellingly and vividly by people living with dementia. A community transformation unfolding as the new story surges onward, leaving its tangible and joyful mark in our museums, parks, community centers, art galleries, stadiums and coffee shops. An irresistible invitation for us all to play a part in abundantly life-giving ways.

And through it all, we use the word to celebrate. The old dementia story has come to an end. The new dementia story is emerging. Momentia! Try saying it. It must, in fact, be exclaimed. The word springs from the lips, proclaiming, transforming, inviting. Momentia! There’s a new dementia story being told. It’s a hopeful story, it’s a triumphant story, and we’re all a part of it. Momentia! We’re not afraid anymore. We are celebrating. Because as dementia is on the rise, so is Momentia!”

It’s hard not to get excited about Momentia with such enlivening words!  KUOW recently aired a story about the program’s group at the Greenwood Senior Center, which you can listen to here, and you can also find out more about Momentia on its Facebook page.  In addition, our post is very timely because an entertaining Momentia evening showcasing the "new dementia story” told by persons with memory loss will take place on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 from 5:30PM to 7:30PM, at The Kendall Center, Taproot Theatre.   You can find out more with the flyer located here.   We hope to see you there.

Let’s get some powerful momentum rolling for Momentia!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Appointment Arrival Part III: Into the Office

After the dropping-off or parking processes described in the last two reflections, Mike (driver) and Mary (client) demonstrated the typical waiting room routine.

Mike and Mary got off the elevator and headed for check-in.  They were impressively early.
Mary is 86-years-old and has regularly received rides from the Volunteer Transportation program for 11 years.  “I just don’t know what I’d do without it!” she told me.
 
Like many volunteer drivers often do, Mike had brought a book to enjoy while waiting during Mary’s appointment.  They modeled reading as a favorite waiting room pastime. 

I was grateful to spend time (albeit brief) with Mike and Mary as they brought yet another part of the ride process to life for me!  Like all the other drivers and clients that I photographed, they reminded me of the many facets of Volunteer Transportation.

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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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