Neighbor Ride is about so much more than just getting someone from one place to the next. It's about connecting with a person on a personal level. The distance in between allows us to learn about the lives of the seniors we drive and for them to ask about ours. So it's husbands and children and grandchildren and careers and a wonderful array of stories and life experiences.
I have never enjoyed doing anything as much as I have enjoyed driving our dear clients. It has been a wonderful experience.
My wife and I have been volunteer drivers for two years. This has been, and continues to be one of our most rewarding experiences. The clients are wonderful and appreciative people who constantly tell us how important our service is to them. The scheduling process for the drives is extremely convenient and flexible, and the office staff has always been extremely helpful and pleasant.
Everytime I drive for Neighbor Ride I make a new friend, which makes it so worthwhile. I also learn the challenges Seniors face in terms of mobility issues, and access to services. It helps me to be an informed advocate for this fabulous age group.
Neighbor Ride has changed my life! When I retired in 2008, I was looking for a volunteer opportunity where I could give back to the community, and happily, I found Neighbor Ride! As a Ride Coordinator in the NR office two days a week, I schedule rides, request drivers for specific rides, and talk to the senior population that NR serves. And I can safely say I get more out of this than they do! I enjoy chatting with the passengers and I have developed cordial relationships with them. I know how much this service means to the individual riders, and I am proud to be a part of this very necessary and well-regarded utility which is so important in their lives! When problems develop with particular rides, I also take pride in coming up with solutions that work for the passengers and the drivers. I am also proud to say that some passengers ask for me when they call in. This proves to me that I have made a difference in their lives, too. In short, Neighbor Ride is important for the community, and it is important for me as well.
I do a lot of volunteer work but Neighbor Ride is special. My commitment is driving seniors at least 2 times per month. I choose the times based on my calendar and my itinerary. Sometimes the decision is made a week in advance. Sometimes a day in advance. Always it is a rewarding experience. The seniors are very appreciative and most of the times they tell a great life story. I always come away knowing that the rider and myself are better for the experience.
I find volunteering for Neighbor Ride to be very rewarding and flexible. Last week I drove a couple I have driven several times before. The wife never speaks any English, but the husband and I have great conversations covering many topics. While helping the wife get out of the car when dropping them off, she took my arm and said clearly, "I love you." It was very heart warming.
As a driver (7 years of me, 10 for my wife), you meet interesting people (a jazz musician, a patient advocate in a local hospital), & folks of every background (businesspeople, teachers, doctors) and nationality (I've learned some Chinese from one passenger, some Japanese from another). Best of all, you set your own schedule, everything is simple and fully automated, and Neighbor Ride is a wonderfully run organization that never leaves its volunteers or clients in the lurch! A model for the whole country to emulate.
I have been a driver for about 18 months, and the experience has broadened my horizons and made me feel more integrated into the community. Most of the riders are a joy. They are cheerful and upbeat and so happy to have the Neighbor Ride service available. While many of the rides concern therapy or doctor's visits, some people are going to card games or social gatherings. One rider happily jingled her mah jong winnings as I drove her home from a party with friends. It helps keep the elderly or those with lesser means active and involved. Their stories are also interesting. I have learned from them strategies for aging and overcoming adversity. It is a win-win service for riders and drivers alike.