Social isolation is a problem in rural areas – but less so in our area thanks to Tele-Drive Albert County. For a low cost, anyone in the county can be picked up from their house, driven to wherever they need to go, and taken back home again. The result? Seniors who lose their licenses or can’t afford cars are able to live in their own homes longer – Tele-Drive will take them to medical appointments, the grocery store and even social events. Parents of young children can take their children to the doctors, to early literacy events and to the library – a great help if the stay-at-home parent doesn’t have a car.
Why volunteer for Tele-Drive?
“I guess I volunteer because I’m selfish…. I really love doing it,” says Betty Weston, laughing. Far from being selfish, Betty volunteers regularly with Tele-Drive Albert County, Forest Dale Home, Shepody Food Bank, the New Horton Church and other community groups.
“When I first heard about Tele-Drive,” Betty says. “It seemed like such a great idea.” Betty could see how important the program could be for our rural community.
“I love driving and I love meeting new people, so it was a natural fit!” After driving often once a week for Tele-Drive since it began five years ago, Betty still loves driving people. She has some “regulars” – people she takes every week or two to get groceries or to go to medical appointments. She also drives people to the Moncton Hospital and sometimes to social events. She does her own shopping when she takes someone to the grocery store. For medical appointments, she prefers to stay and wait, although many of the clients let her know that she can leave to do her own errands. After the appointment is finished, Betty drives the person back to their home.
“It’s great. People are always thankful for the service. It’s important,” says Betty.
Steps to volunteering
Recently I enrolled as a volunteer driver. Getting started was simple. I emailed Kim Beers to let her know I was interested. Kim, Tele-Drive’s coordinator, sent me a few forms to fill out and I went to the police station in Riverview for a criminal record check. After that came back clean, Kim and I met and she explained the details.
Whenever someone in my area needs a ride and doesn’t have a regular driver, Kim asks me. If I can’t do it, she understands. Any and all volunteer help is welcome. If you can volunteer once every two months, that’s fine. If you can volunteer once a week, that’s even better. You can choose the time when it’s convenient to drive someone. Volunteers receive $0.35/km to compensate for gas and the use of their cars.
I have been able to help out a few times and it was fun. I enjoyed talking with the people I drove and spending time with their kids. (Each time, I drove a parent and one child.)
“Thank you Danet for driving us,” said a three-year-old last time I gave he and his father a lift (the letter ‘J’ being a tricky one for young children). He waved and grinned at the door of his house, and I drove off with a smile.
Congratulations! In April 2018, Horizon Health Network gave Tele-Drive Albert County one of 13 Community Health Recognition Awards.
Tele-Drive Albert County is currently looking for volunteer drivers throughout Albert County, particularly in Hillsborough. If you are considering volunteering, contact Kim Beers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 875-1190.