LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Volunteer driver programs are essential services
Heroes come in many forms, and most are obvious like public safety officials, healthcare workers and veterans. However, there are also lesser known heroes in your community who drive neighbors and strangers to essential services with little compensation every day. These drivers and sponsoring agencies are vitally important in helping get veterans to medical appointments, older citizens to grocery stores, and providing meaningful interaction for those who are isolated at home.
Minnesota organizations with volunteer driver programs provided nearly 170,000 rides, covering over 9 million miles in 2018. Without these volunteers, it would be nearly impossible for those that use the service to reach the Mayo Clinic, veterans hospitals, or even a locally prepared meal.
Will you be someone’s hero? Become a volunteer driver in your community today.
Despite the current public health crisis, volunteer drivers are desperately needed in the community. The typical volunteer is 55 or older, so many are not choosing to participate due to elevated COVID-19 risk factors. Additionally, despite many appointments going virtual, people still struggle getting rides to healthcare services.
All driver agencies are providing protective equipment such as sanitizer and facemask to drivers to help maintain their safety. If you are unable to drive but wanting to help, consider donating to your local program so they can continue to train and insure volunteers. Inadequate transportation should never be a barrier in accessing essential services.
If you are unsure what programs are available in the area, contact the Regional Transportation Council at (218) 333-6545 or visit HeadwatersRTCC.org .
Bryan McCoy is mobility manager for the Headwaters Regional Transportation Coordinating Council.