Volunteer driver, Jeffrey F., is hard to catch, especially since he is so busy giving rides to older adults for SRC. However, when we asked to talk with Jeffrey about his volunteering, he graciously agreed to answer our questions.
Q: What made you decide to volunteer?
A: I was going to the store one afternoon in the winter. It was cold, the wind was blowing and there was an elderly lady pushing a cart struggling against the wind. It was one of those days after being retired for five years when all I had to do for the afternoon was an errand. I thought twice about going back and offering her a ride.
Q: Why did you decide to drive older adults?
A: After that experience, a few weeks later, I saw a Facebook call for SRC drivers and responded. After I had retired, I got a nice car that I used for touring all over Colorado and across the U.S. to do some hiking. I thought it would be perfect for helping drive seniors. Plus, the wife likes me out of the house. I didn’t want to work full time, and thought why not do something like this for a year or so to give back to the community and try to score some big karma points.
Q: How did you hear about Seniors’ Resource Center?
A: SRC uses several ways to advertise for volunteer drivers and many other volunteer positions. I think I saw it on Facebook. I also have seen it in Jeffco newsletters and I think on NextDoor.com.
Q: What was your occupation before retiring?
A: I was a Senior Technical Specialist in geotechnical engineering, Earth Sciences Laboratory, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Department of the Interior, and at the Denver Federal Center for 34 years. The USBR is the agency that built Hoover Dam and mega water projects in the western US.
Q: What do you like about driving older adults?
A: It’s so rewarding because every rider is very grateful and happy. Being an older adult and losing your ability to drive is a big deal. It’s a loss of freedom,and loneliness sets in. Going for a ride makes their day and week. They like the fancy car and it’s like they have a custom chauffeur. It’s also a challenge and adventure on every ride.
Q: Do you have a set schedule that works for you allowing you to be so active?
A: Since being retired, my main interests are hiking, biking, cross country road trips and technical writing. You can’t go up in the mountains unless the weather is good, so I had lots of down time. After doing that for five years, I decided to try something new and do volunteer work for a year. Using the spreadsheet for volunteer drivers, I pick as many rides three days in advance as I want, based on location. So it’s easy to take a week off if need be.
Q: How many rides a week do you average?
A: I put this on top of my activity list this year. I have been doing three to four a week and I have about 80 rides since February 2018. Most of rides are for medical appointments, and hairdressers come in close after that. The ladies love their hairdressers! It means a lot to them.
Q: In your approximate six months as a volunteer driver have you met any unique/special clients?
A: There is a wide variety of folks and they all are unique, and I have had some real fun. Sometimes it’s sad if you know someone is in bad shape, but at least you lent them a hand. I think my most rewarding and challenging ride was taking a Vietnam Veteran all the way over to the new billion-dollar VA center in Aurora. I get to hike around lakes while I am waiting for a client and have been able to tour many local parks in the city.
Q: Any advice for new drivers?
A: You must be timely and courteous. They are literally precious cargo and must be treated with kid gloves. Some are visually impaired;many have walkers and oxygen. A fall could be a real disaster. These folks are depending on you and get worried if you are late. You must call them the day before the ride. Offer to come a bit early, then they will tell you if they added time for the real appointment. You really must be good with Google maps and review your drive and traffic patterns before driving. A wreck on a major artery can really foul up drive timing, so you need to be ready to leave early and have alternate routes. The good news is most of these appointments are generally not in rush hour times.
Thank you to Jeffrey, and all our volunteer drivers, for providing rides for SRC clients!