MANCHESTER – You’ve read the news. Heard from friends and family. It’s rough out there. People are hurting. And here you are, trying to figure out how to help.
There are organizations nearby that specialize in helping others. And guess what? They need help, too.
Somebody CARES is looking for you. Yes, you. They need drivers for just a few hours a week.
Who will you be driving? Your neighbors.
There are many, many people in Whiting who can’t drive any more. But they still need to get to doctor’s appointments and other important stops.
Here’s how it works. Somebody CARES has a garage and a dispatch office on Schoolhouse Road. Someone needs a ride somewhere, and they call in. The dispatcher sends a car around. The driver picks someone up and drops them off at their location. Then, when the doctor’s appointment is done, they call again and get picked up and dropped off at their house. Easy as that.
The thing is, the demand is much greater than the number of drivers. That’s why the organization is actively looking for more.
The entire operation is volunteer, and it’s getting harder to find volunteers, said Pat Zyla, the executive director of Somebody CARES. A lot of seniors still have to work to support themselves and they can’t spare the time to volunteer.
There are a lot of people who get sedentary later in life, she said. It’s not good for anyone to sit around at home, and watch TV. It’s best to be around people.
It’s amazing how the drivers get to know the passengers and strike up friendly conversation, said Karen Kologie, who coordinates the Dial-A-Ride program.
“They’re all very giving people,” she said.
And helping them is the best way to do that. After all, it just might be you who depends on others for a ride in a few short years.
They are looking for drivers who can help out for a few hours a week, taking four hour shifts within an 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. window. You need a clean driving record. Somebody CARES will provide the vehicle, insurance, and training.
If you’re interested, call 732-350-2900.
If you can’t drive anymore, the service can literally be a lifesaver, allowing you to make it to doctor appointments. But, they also go to the post office, banks, and grocery stores.
The service is free, but a $2 donation is welcome. Somebody CARES is financed by a foundation, but the donation helps extend that foundation. The organization does not get any money from the government. All support comes from residents and the business community.