Transport Others to Make a Difference
For many in Central Minnesota, getting from one destination to another can be difficult. This is especially true among older adults. According to the American Community Survey and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the population of older adults increased 23% between 2000 and 2014. Nationally, one out of five adults over 65 does not drive according to a Minnesota private driver testing center. Given these two statistics, there are a lot of older adults who are unable to get from one place to another. These individuals are especially in need of transportation assistance from various organizations and public transit.
The Central Minnesota Council on Aging assisted 1,091 older adults with 29,829 trips to various appointments after being awarded Federal Older Americans Act funding. Tri-County Action Program (Tri-CAP) provided transportation as well, with 25,319 one way trips in 2015. Without services from organizations such as these, transportation is notably difficult for older adults.
When it comes to the barrier of transportation, two women who are part of the Greater St. Cloud Area Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) (Lisa J. Braun, Director) experience this challenge. Together, Rosemary and Elsie have logged over 7,227 hours volunteering their time to improve the lives of others. Without other RSVP volunteers to drive them to their placement at Catholic Charities, they would be unable to volunteer.
The two RSVP volunteers who drive Elsie and Rosemary are Dick Busse and Ray Schlichting. Without Dick and Ray, the two women would be completely unable to get to Catholic Charities. They would miss out on the social interaction and their purpose of volunteering, and the community would miss out on two wonderful, hardworking individuals.
Ray states, “I enjoy taking them,” and Dick agrees. Dick and Ray talk fondly of the two women, “They’re two neat old ladies,” Dick says. Dick and Ray joke that they don’t have to say a single word the whole drive – one of the women keeps the conversation going! Driving Elsie and Rosemary has been a positive experience for both men. “It makes you feel a little bit important,” Ray says.
Ray and Dick are passionate about volunteering, and say there are far more good memories than bad. “It’s hard to pick one good (memory) because most are good,” Dick states. Ray was trained by Dick in transporting Rosemary and Elsie to Catholic Charities. In fact, this is how the two gentlemen met, and they became fast friends. The two men talk about how this is the best part about volunteering – you meet so many great people.
Elsie and Rosemary are very appreciative of this service. “They’re the only way I could get there,” Elsie stated. Without Dick and Ray being able to transport these two hardworking women, they would miss out on a meaningful volunteer experience. Rosemary states about her volunteer experience at Catholic Charities, “I love it. It gives me something to do and for the people.”
Over the span of almost 16 years, Dick has served a total of 5,056 hours to RSVP. Just so far in 2016, Dick has served almost 300 hours driving the two volunteers to Catholic Charities. Ray has been volunteering for RSVP for 14 years, and has served 2,574 hours to RSVP at various agencies. These hours are crucial to those who are unable to transport themselves.
Many volunteers are needed for transportation services at agencies such as Tri-CAP and Meals on Wheels. 49 RSVP volunteers served 14,689 hours transporting others in 2015. If you are over the age of 55, you can make a difference by driving people where they need to go. To learn more about becoming an RSVP volunteer, please contact the RSVP office at (320) 255-7295 or visit http://ci.stcloud.mn.us/RSVP.