It takes a village

The Rappahannock County community runs smoothly because of many people — elected officials, business owners, front-line staff workers, and many more. But behind the scenes, there are hundreds of volunteers who contribute thousands of hours to making this county a better place to live. These selfless individuals often prefer going about their business quietly and without fanfare.

One group that makes a huge difference is volunteer drivers. Many senior citizens, those with disabilities, and some veterans have no transportation for doctor’s appointments, trips to the VA, or other important rides. Volunteer drivers are able to fulfill those important needs, either using their own vehicles or a wheelchair-accessible van (“Care-A-Van”) owned by Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services. In 2016, the Care-A-Van program alone transported 410 individuals to important destinations.

One grateful recipient of Care-A-Van service wrote, “I want to thank you very much! [Without] your Care-A-Van program, I would not be able to get to my doctor’s appointments, [or get] my prescriptions or my groceries. I appreciate all that [your staff and volunteers] do to help me. [My volunteer] has become a great friend. I am very blessed for all you do, and hope someday I can repay the kindness. Thanks and God bless you.”

The One Call Transportation Center (540-825-3900) allows anyone in the region to receive up-to-date information on the many transportation options available, including private, public and volunteer. The Mobility Specialists at the One Call Center can also provide “travel training” for those who may be hesitant to ride alone the first time or two. One of them will accompany a new rider until he or she is comfortable with the route and procedures.

Dale Simpson, who has been a volunteer Care-A-Van driver since January, said, “Helping people by giving them a ride to medical appointments is so rewarding. It’s such a small thing on my part, but if it weren’t for our program, these folks wouldn’t be able to get the treatments they need. I’m retired, so I have some flexibility in my schedule, but I can drive around my other commitments, where and when I am comfortable.”

Dale encourages other retirees and those with some weekday time on their hands to consider volunteering.

If you are interested in knowing more about volunteer driving opportunities in Rappahannock and surrounding counties call Lola Walker at Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services (RRCS), 540-825-3100, extension 3416.

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