Volunteers are the heart of the program, without them a number of individuals in our community would not be able to attend their medical appointments and treatments. For many friendships are formed and both the patient and driver benefit from the others company.
Wheels for Wellness drivers donate their time, vehicle and gas to the program. Each year as the need for transportation increases the generosity of the drivers does also increasing the number of hours or miles they are volunteering.
In 2020 the COVID19 pandemic caused many physicians offices to go to tele-health calls or cancelled appointments. But those patients who attend dialysis, chemotherapy or radiation don't have that option. Treatments can't wait.
Even with the decrease due to the pandemic, this amazing group of volunteers provided 1,380 transports driving 33,931.5 miles. These numbers represent about half of what is provided and driven in a typical year.
What our drivers are saying:
Wonderful group. I have enjoyed volunteering for this group for well over 10 years. The people you transport are so grateful for your service. It's a real feel good volunteer job. I served on the board and then became a volunteer after retiring. ~ J. T.
When I retired after a 30-year teaching career I knew that I would not be content spending a lot of time at home and that volunteering would become a big part of my life. My only criterion was that I wanted to do something that would have a positive and direct impact on someone’s life. After all, isn’t that what we are put on this earth to do--help others? It took some time for the right opportunity and fit to “find me.”
A friend of mine introduced me to Faith in Action. I started volunteering in February of 2018. I have enjoyed meeting all types of people who have one thing in common; they are truly appreciative of the service we provide and are amazed that we do this free of charge.
I have become a regular driver for one of our clients, Sarah B. Sarah has Alzheimer’s disease and spends parts of two days a week at the Adult Care Center in Winchester. I pick her up every Tuesday morning. She always has a smile on her face and sometimes even remembers my name! On our drive into Winchester we always listen to and sing along with music. I try to play music she knows and I am amazed and delighted when she remembers the words and sings along! I enjoy my weekly rides with Sarah and she does, too.
Any chronic disease is as hard, or harder, for the caregiver. Sometimes the service Faith in Action provides goes beyond that of simply giving someone a ride to the doctor. I know that Sarah’s husband, John, is truly grateful for the service we provide. He has a lot of responsibilities that he never expected to have. He has asked me for advice on clothing choices, laundry tips and cooking. I think of them as extended family and hope they feel the same way about me. ~K.Y.
I have been a volunteer with Wheels for Wellness since early 2018. This organization provides transportation for people who have appointments with doctors or the hospital, but no way to get there.
It has been very rewarding.
Let me tell you about one client I came to know. She was a patient two days a week at the Adult Care Center, which provides care for people with dementia to give respite to their regular caregivers. She lived a distance from Winchester, but it was near where I lived, so I signed up to drive her home both days she was there.
Sadie is a delightful person, who clearly has a great personality. She would give "yes" or "no" answers to questions I might ask, but little else. She had lost the capacity to enjoy a conversation.
I noticed that she would sometimes hum quietly to herself, although because the hum was a monotone it sounded more like a rhythm. If I asked her whether that was a song, she immediately became silent.
One day two young people were playing "Amazing Grace" on a flute and piano as I arrived at the Center. We could hear them as we left the Center. As always, I faced her and walked backwards holding her hands and encouraging her as she counted the steps to my car.
As we started driving away, Sadie began her monotone humming and I was quite sure that it was the rhythm to Amazing Grace she was singing. But she was quiet and confused when I asked. So, I waited and eventually she began to hum again. So, I began singing the first verse and chorus. She paused for a moment and then began to hum more loudly. After a few verses, she joined me in singing the chorus. She was remembering more than rhythm. She was also remembering tunes and words.
From then on, our times in my car were different. We found nearly a dozen gospel songs, hymns and spirituals that we both knew. Several were George Beverly Shea favorites. Others were standard fare for those of us who grew up attending church on Sunday mornings and evenings and Wednesdays for Bible Study. I asked her one day if she had been a "church-going woman." She responded with great conviction that she had been, but when I asked her the name of the church or denomination, she could not remember.
That was fine. Someone has said that joy is the feeling you have when you are with people who are glad to be with you. In spite of the barriers between us caused by forgetfulness and cognitive decline, Sadie and I were filled with joy as I drove her home, singing songs we both loved. ~D.V.
First, I have to say that I didn’t volunteer for a whole year and I missed it terribly. Now after being vaccinated, I have been able to get back to it. This week I had three transports. Two were for senior ladies that I had previously driven many times. They both told me they were happy to see me again. This was very nice to hear. The third transport was for a younger single man, a teacher, needing a ride to his colonoscopy appt. He thanked me numerous times and mentioned that this was a really nice service we provide. I’m feeling so good about being able to get back to this uplifting experience. ~M.B.
Make Your Mark
Thank you for your interest in becoming a Volunteer Driver!
If you are not familiar with Wheels for Wellness it is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides free transportation to medical appointments and treatment for those without other means of transportation. Many transports are to dialysis, chemotherapy and radiation in addition to doctors’ appointments.
The program is a managed by two part-time staff, an Executive Director and a Scheduler. The service is provided by a fleet of generous volunteers. Drivers are credentialed through Valley Health Volunteer Services after completion of a one-day orientation. The orientation includes a DMV background search and TB test.
WFW volunteers use their own vehicles to transport clients. Personal liability and secondary auto insurance coverage is provided by WFW but we also require that volunteers carry their own auto insurance.
There is no required driving. Volunteers may sign up for transports that work with their personal or work schedules. Should a conflict arise after a volunteer has committed to a transport, we ask that our office be alerted promptly so we may make alternate arrangements for the client. Transports are scheduled two weeks in advance.
WFW provides pertinent information for each transport. We ask that volunteers contact clients in advance to confirm transports and that volunteers be prompt for pick-up. We also ask that client information be kept confidential. All clients are ambulatory, so any assistance needed should be minimal. We ask that volunteers convey to WFW any concern regarding a client, particularly if a client’s mobility becomes impaired.
Inclement weather policy is on a case-by case basis, as transports vary. No volunteer however, will be asked to drive in conditions in which they are not comfortable.
Volunteers are asked to submit time and mileage monthly for all their transports.
A Valley Health credential affords discounts from selected area retailers, VH cafeterias and coffee shops, as well as free flu shots and educational opportunities. Annually, WFW volunteers will be recognized at WMC and WFW events.
Interested in joining this team? Click here for a Volunteer application.
Our 2021 Volunteer Heroes:
John Marino 4,977
Becky Stickley 4,942
John Ahern 4,854
Richard Gervasoni 3,780
Ann Lamanna 1,941
Cois Ritenour 1,383.75
Kim DeGroot 1,157
Andy Toth 1,076
Richard Fieo 1,031
Mike Garcia 774
Rex Ritchie 438
Michael Johnson 437
Rosslyn Selzer 303
Majorie Morrison 183
Richard Burner 147
Martha Chrisman 93
Thomas Davison 93
Joyce Dunlap 50
Karen Shipp 9
Some volunteers go above and beyond the call to duty, these individuals are our
Those recognized below have driven 10,000 miles
or more for the program
* the numbers below indicate total mileage from January 2004 or first date of service through December 2021
Mary Buehler 52,668.7
John Zimet 42,400
Mike Morrison 39,460.75
Rex Ritchie 30,198
Richard Gervasoni 28,256
John Ahern 24,534
Becky Stickley 22,409.5
Jack Rogers 20,890
John Marino 18,359
Ann Lamanna 15,999
Mike Garcia 14,091.2
Kim DeGroot 13,431
Steve Chance 12,792
Eric Melkerson 11,800.25
Roko Morith 10,880
William Lawrence 10,502.50