Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Volunteer Drivers Needed for Great Falls Charity

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Volunteer Drivers Needed for Great Falls Charity

A new organization has been formed to provide assistance to Great Falls senior citizens aging in place. The Shepherd’s Center of Great Falls (SCGF) will offer free rides to non-driving seniors, transporting them to medical and other critical appointments. Often the elderly who have lost the ability to drive – whether temporarily or permanently – become isolated socially and physically, and the cost and difficulties of getting transportation to critical appointments become an obstacle to proper care and good health.

Shepherd’s Centers are operating in more than 60 towns and cities across the U.S.

SCGF’s ride service operates as follows:

  • Screened seniors who are accepted into the program make a ride request for a certain day and time, to a certain place.

  • Screened driver volunteers view ride requests online (24x7) and can accept rides that match their schedule and preferences. There is never an obligation for a volunteer to accept any particular ride or to drive any minimum number of times.

  • The volunteer drives his/her car and provides the fuel. Out of pocket trip costs such as parking are the responsibility of the rider. Miles driven are tax deductible as a charitable contribution on state and federal tax returns.

SCGF is hoping to start providing rides in November and building a team of volunteers now is a critical need for us. Volunteers receive background checks, paid for by SCGF, and training before their first ride. Typical volunteers are retirees, stay at home parents, people with flexible or at-home work, and even high-school and college students. The only requirement is a minimum age of 18 and a good driving record.

People who are looking to meet others in Great Falls and like to have personal contact with the people they are helping make great volunteers. Shepherd’s Center volunteers tell heartwarming stories of interesting people they’ve met and seniors they’ve developed great relationships with. It is very rewarding to have direct contact with people you are helping. Volunteers also enjoy the freedom and flexibility ride service allows to volunteer when it’s convenient for them. Students get the added value of getting service credits at their school or college for their volunteer time.

For more information on SCGF, volunteering, riding, or making donations, visit SCGF’s website at theSCGF.org or call 703-586-9696. They can be reached by mail at PO Box 64, Great Falls VA 22066.

Philip Pifer

Great Falls/SCGF President