Imagine that you are an older adult, no longer able to drive. You have a doctor’s appointment, but the office is too far to walk. It’s not on the bus route, and taxi is are too expensive. No friend or family member is available to take you. What to do?
For people in the Westport, Waldo or Brookside area, one answer is Shepherd’s Center Central’s “Wheels That Care” program. Volunteers drive older adults to essential destinations, like the grocery store, doctor’s office, or hairdresser.
“This service has allowed my sister and I to stay in our own home.” – Esther H., client
“Wheels That Care” has been operating almost since Shepherd’s Center Central was founded in 1972, and since 1997 one remarkable couple has been largely responsible for making it work. Bob and Shirley Legg always figured they would volunteer at Shepherd’s Center after retirement, and when that day finally came they joined “Wheels That Care” as drivers. Bob often made 15 or more trips in one week.
In 1997 volunteer Phil Brinkman was directing the program. Bob and Shirley took over when he retired, and have never looked back. Every Thursday afternoon Shirley reviews her list of “rides needed” from requests called in during the week. She contacts volunteer drivers and schedules as many rides as possible for the coming week.
As for Bob, it would be impossible to calculate the number of people he’s transported or how many miles he’s driven on behalf of “Wheels That Care”. He says it’s been well worth it. “The reward of this is that you meet wonderful people.” Shirley agrees. “You take some of these people regularly, and you get to know them. You really get involved, and sometimes they become friends.”
“I’m not only able to get the food and health products I need, but I have an enjoyable time doing it. Nice friendships! – Mary S., client
WTC volunteers make an immediate impact. “People are so grateful,” Shirley says. “You know you’re making a real difference in their lives.” Bob noted that sometimes when you work with the older population, you watch them get frailer. “It’s hard, because you’ve formed that bond. But you have to accept it.”
The Leggs credit part of their success with Wheels That Care to their years as retail florists. “In any operation, the customer comes first,” Shirley says emphatically. “And we were always fighting the clock, juggling flower deliveries,” Bob adds. Thanks to their patience, dedication, and “juggling” skills, Wheels That Care clients have received superior service for almost two decades.
One more client comment: “We’re fortunate indeed to have a group of individuals so dedicated to giving their time and energy to improve our quality of life! Shepherd’s Center – the heart of our community!”
And volunteers like Bob and Shirley Legg are the heart of Shepherd’s Center Central.
The need is great, and “Wheels That Care” always needs new volunteers. If you can drive, and have a morning or afternoon free at least once a month, you can use that time to help an older adult stay independent in their own home. It’s a great opportunity for students or people with a variable work schedule. Contact Shepherd’s Center Central for information email@example.com or 816-444-1121.