Seniors support organization has only about 10 drivers to provide hundreds of rides
By Laura Lennie, News Staff
Joyce Thomas says she can’t speak highly enough of Stoney Creek Seniors Outreach Services’ volunteer drivers program.
“I am absolutely reliant on SOS,” the 83-year-old Stoney Creek resident said. “Honestly, I can’t do without the program. It’s a wonderful service in so many respects.”
SOS is a non-profit organization that assists senior citizens and disabled persons to remain independent and in their homes.
Volunteer drivers provide clients with rides to appointments, shopping or recreational outings. Volunteers also may help clients to and from the vehicle and usually remain with them for short appointments.
Thomas began using SOS’ volunteer drivers program 12 years ago after her husband died.
Her husband had been the primary driver for many years because she had ongoing foot issues.
Thomas tried to get back behind the wheel, but doctors recommended that she not drive due to her foot problems.
She was forced to find another way to get around.
Thomas found out about the volunteer drivers service while getting blood work done one day at a local medical building.
“We were never able to have children, all of my family is in Wales, a lot of my friends have passed away and it’s hard asking others to drive you all the time to appointments because it can be an inconvenience. I was speaking with a lady at the lab and said, ‘I wish there was another way I could get down here,’” she said. “The lady said, ‘Have you ever tried SOS?’ She gave me the organization’s card, I called the number and that was it.”
Thomas went on to become an SOS office volunteer as a way of giving back.
She answered the phone and assisted clients with inquiries until the organization moved from Lake Avenue South to its current location at 605 Hwy. 8.
Thomas, who now relies on the assistance of a walker, said she couldn’t be more thankful for all that SOS’ volunteer drivers program has done for her.
“Having no children, I used to go to the doctor’s and I’d be the only one in the waiting room sitting by myself, but now I have someone who comes in, sits and waits with me and we just chat away,” she said. “Drivers and clients become friends – you chat, joke, laugh and learn a lot from each other. Essentially, both parties benefit from the relationship in so many ways.”
SOS treasurer Joe Kielb said the organization has about 465 clients.
Volunteer drivers are in high demand, he said.
“Our transportation service is the most requested service,” said Kielb, adding SOS provides about 200 rides a month. “We’re down to only 10 drivers. We’re in desperate need of more in order to meet the demand.”
Kielb said volunteer drivers are compensated by the client.
“It’s a fixed rate and it covers gas and parking,” he said. “Drivers need a valid licence, automobile insurance, a vehicle that’s reliable and one that’s reasonably accessible for clients. For the volunteers, it’s a great way to give back to the community.”
Thomas said a volunteer drivers’ service and time means the world to those sitting in the passenger seat.
“There are so many seniors out there in need of this service, so I’m pleading for people out there to please, if you’ve got time to do this then do so. You’ll be rewarded, not just in money, but also in so many other respects. Ultimately, it’s good for the soul.”
SOS is in need of volunteer drivers for its transportation service.
For more information on how to get involved, call the office at 905-643-1919.