Eric Ehst, Executive Director, Neighbors Who Care
How important is your access to medical care? How would you cope if you were unable to drive and needed to get to the doctor? In 2017, Neighbors Who Care volunteers transported 400 of your homebound friends, family and neighbors to 4,800 medical appointments. Although some trips were to destinations as far away as the Phoenix VA Hospital and the Mayo Clinic, most were to local doctors’ offices and dialysis clinics. The number of rides needed has increased by over 40% in just the last five years and is on track to exceed 5,000 in 2018. The catch is we’re doing all of this with the same number of volunteers we had five years ago.
Neighbors Who Care works really hard to meet our frail, disabled and homebound clients’ needs. Some volunteers are willing to be called at the last minute for an “urgent” appointment. Many will work with us and the clients when appointments are canceled, rescheduled or take longer than expected. Occasionally, our office staff drops everything to help someone with a last-minute need. Our first priority is the wellbeing of the people we serve.
On very rare occasions, we are forced to tell a client that we are unable to find a volunteer to take them to their appointment. You can imagine what it is like to have to tell someone that we are powerless to get them to their vital dialysis or chemotherapy. Would you be able to make that phone call?
The situation, more people needing more rides and a shrinking base of volunteers, is going to force us to make those calls more often, especially in the summer months when many of our volunteers are out of town. That’s where you come in. If you have a car and an occasional spare hour or two, your neighbors need your help. Our volunteers all find it very rewarding. They make new friends, find new purpose in their lives and get a really good feeling from helping others. They say that they’re not only paying back their community, but keeping alive a vital organization that will be there in the future when they may find themselves in the passenger seat, needing that ride to the doctor.
Neighbors Who Care volunteers enjoy the most flexible volunteer environment possible. There are no set hours, no minimum requirement and you can accept or turn down any assignment. And all of this comes with the heartfelt gratitude of your neighbors.
If you would like to experience the deep personal satisfaction that comes from volunteering to assist your neighbors, or if you know of someone who needs our help, contact us at 480-895-7133 (www.neighborswhocare.com).