Sudbury volunteers drive seniors transportation program
Sudbury Red Cross hoping to expand program so seniors can go more places, more often
A service that helps drive hundreds of Sudbury seniors around town says it needs more volunteers to help it expand.
The Seniors Transportation Program is run through the city's branch of the Red Cross, and it’s given people like Sudbury resident Lynn Murray the opportunity to still get out and about.
Murray found out about the program two years ago when her vision loss impaired her ability to drive.
"If I didn't have the volunteer drivers, I wouldn't have much of a life," she said.
"I live outside the main part of the city and, with my eyesight, it's not easy to take a regular bus or anything."
Murray said she primarily uses the program to get to and from medical appointments — but added she thought expanding that program to include general errands would be helpful.
'Freedom that's hard to explain'
The Red Cross said it's trying to help seniors accomplish more of these everyday errands. But first, it needs to add to its volunteer roster.
"We're hoping to expand and really push out because that way we can help get more and more people where they want to go," said Dave St. Georges a spokesperson for the Red Cross.
"[And to] help them age confidently in their homes."
St. Georges said the Red Cross is looking for 20 to 25 new volunteers — people that will help seniors feel more independent.
"The confidence to be able to leave your home when you think you otherwise have no other ride is a freedom that's hard to explain," he said.
"But when you experience it, it's something else. And being able to take away that isolation, I think, is really big."
Volunteers can either drive their own car with some mileage reimbursement or use one of the agency’s vehicles.
David Stone has been volunteering with the Red Cross for 13 years and is a relief driver for the Seniors Transportation Program. He normally drives for the program at least once a week.
"The driving program is very rewarding," he said.
"For some of these people it's the only social contact away from their own houses, so I've learned a lot about the community and the different things that people have done."
Volunteer drivers take their passengers to the drug store, the grocery store, hair salon and other destinations.
"A couple people … reminisce on how they don't get out much," Stone said.
"Sometimes, if we have a few minutes extra, we'll drive through part of the city to see what the developments are, and they're really grateful for the rides and the security."
Murray said she appreciates the independence she has gained through the program.
"I would have to depend on friends constantly," she said.
"As you get older there's always more appointments and some days you only have a few days notice … This way you have your own independence, and that's really important. It’s a wonderful experience."