Volunteers needed for Langley, B.C., program that gives seniors a lift
Drivers needed to shuttle seniors to appointments and to social events in largely rural community
Twice a week, Wendy Miller travels from Brookswood to Aldergrove in Langley, B.C., to visit her mother, who lives in care.
It only takes 20 minutes by car, but Miller is a senior who doesn't drive.
The trip takes nearly two hours by bus, so Miller doesn't take one.
Instead, Miller gets help from a program offered through the Langley Senior Resources Centre (LSRS), where volunteers give people a lift.
But the program — which depends on people offering to drive seniors to and from appointments — needs more drivers.
"It's always been a need out here because of the rural nature of Langley," said Janice McTaggart, the LSRS director of outreach and volunteer services.
The LSRS — which is funded through the United Way — is on a volunteer recruitment mission.
Volunteers use their own car and are reimbursed for their gas. McTaggart calls it a unique transportation service because it's one-to-one.
"This is very personal ... People get to know each other."
She said about 250 seniors use the service regularly, but there are about 600 people registered, with some only using it occasionally.
Wendy Miller is a regular user. Her 97-year-old mother lived with her for 25 years before she moved to a care home. Now, she says the distance from her mother breaks her heart and if it wasn't for the LSRS she says she would be "hooped."
"It's taken a load off of my mind having these guys," said Miller. "Without them ... I wouldn't be able to get out to see her."
150 trips per month
Miller isn't alone in her need for transportation services. McTaggart said her group does about 150 trips a month, but would like to do much more.
Currently, the LSRS has almost 20 volunteer drivers, most of them seniors. Eight more volunteers are being trained to join the program, but the number of seniors who need help getting around is also growing, she said.
"The more drivers we have the more rides we can offer," said McTaggart.
Previously, the group had 37 drivers and there was no shortage of trips for them to help with.
Anyone can volunteer to drive, as long as they are over 19, have a driver's licence, have a good driving record and are able to pass a criminal record check.
With files from Jake Costello and The Early Edition