Monday, November 23, 2015

Seattle Times Spotlight

We were delighted to see our program, including volunteer driver Bill Goodfellow and client Mary Roberts, featured in this article in today's edition of the Seattle Times.  We were profiled because Senior Services is one of twelve local agencies that will benefit from the Seattle Times Fund For the Needy.  What an exciting opportunity!

We'd like to share the story's narrative about Volunteer Transportation here:

Seniors helping seniors
While some Seattle and King County residents enjoyed an economic resurgence after the recession of 2008, those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder have not shared in the prosperity.

In the annual overnight count of homeless in King County early this year, volunteers found 3,772 men, women and children had no shelter, more than a 20 percent increase from the previous year.

Alison Eisinger, executive director of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, called the tally “heartbreaking evidence that we cannot cover our community’s most basic needs.”

The numbers of people in need are large. The Census Bureau estimates that 60,000 children and 20,000 seniors in King County are living in households below the poverty level.

As baby boomers age, the ranks of elders swell. Today’s “youngest” oldsters may need to stay in the workforce longer, or live more years in which they’ll depend on Social Security and savings.

In the effort to help seniors, Senior Services uses a particularly effective resource: other seniors.

Of the 3,800 volunteers that put in a combined 274,000 hours last year, the agency estimates that 85 percent were at least 60 years old.

Among them is Bill Goodfellow, of Seattle, who’ll turn 80 in December.

For seven years — usually several times a week — he has driven Senior Services clients to doctor visits or other appointments. He stays through their appointments and takes them home.

The retired architect and structural engineer happily gives up the time. If the appointment is a long one, that’s fine, he said. It gives him more time to read the library books — including many mysteries — he has downloaded onto his iPad.

Goodfellow forgoes the money Senior Services offers for gas and parking, as do other drivers he knows, who consider it part of “their contribution to the program.”

Mary Roberts, 89, of Seattle, gets dropped off at her
dentist’s office by Senior Services volunteer Bill Goodfellow.
(Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times) 
The unsung heroes of the program, he said, are the Senior Services staffers who, a week at a time, match up ride requests with the available drivers.

Senior Services’ ride programs took clients a total of 1,113,422 miles last year, the equivalent of more than two round trips to the moon.

The best part of the assignment, he said, is meeting interesting people, such as Mary Roberts, 89, whom he recently drove from her Capitol Hill apartment to her Beacon Hill dentist.

Mary Roberts, 89, of Seattle, jokes around with
Senior Services volunteer driver Bill Goodfellow, who turns 80
in December. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
A few years ago, Roberts might not have envisioned needing this service. But that changed when she got in a serious car crash while driving to a square-dancing session in West Seattle.

“No one was injured, thankfully. But I decided it was a sign. I couldn’t take the thought of hurting someone.” So she hung up her car keys for good.

Roberts, a retired materials-purchasing manager for a railroad, enjoys walking and doesn’t mind the 12-block walk to her church, Capitol Hill Presbyterian.

But she’s glad to have the option of Senior Services rides to doctor visits. She makes donations for the rides — but still less than she’d have to pay if she used a taxi.

And she regards Goodfellow as nothing less than an important civic asset.

“He just a really sweet guy,” she said. “And we’re fortunate to have him.”


 As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, we give thanks for Bill and all the rest of our our amazing and inspiring volunteer drivers!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Heartfelt Client Appreciation

Mariam M. is a 93-year-old Bothell resident who is originally from Armenia.  When her family learned that she would require daily radiation treatments, they were grateful to discover the Volunteer Transportation program.  Mariam and her daughter-in-law rode with many different volunteer drivers over the past few weeks as they travelled frequently to Evergreen Hospital’s Oncology Department, and they greatly appreciated the service and support during such a difficult time.

We were very touched by the thank you card we received from Mariam this week, and we’d like to share it with you here:

It reads,
“To Volunteer Transportation Senior Services,
Thank you for offering this wonderful and much needed service for Senior Citizens.  It sure made life easier for my children and I.  Your hard work combined with love, caring and dedication makes this world a very beautiful place to live in.  If only everyone can act and help each other like this, the whole world will be at peace.

Love all of you & your fabulous volunteers,
Mariam M. & family”

Amen!  What a lovely statement!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Welcome, Claire

Claire McDaniel joined the Volunteer Transportation staff on July 21st as the program’s intrepid Administrative Assistant. She is very busy learning all of the intricate behind-the-scenes work necessary to make our program the well-oiled machine it is today!

After 20 years in Seattle as an administrative professional in the corporate world, Claire was ready to make the move to a nonprofit where she can do more meaningful work. Senior Services was just what she was looking for! Before joining us, her most fulfilling position was the four years she spent at Seattle Housing Authority as Executive Assistant to the Director of Communications. Claire saw how much low income housing residents appreciated the opportunity to live in safe, affordable and comfortable communities. While studying Sociology at San Jose State University, she learned not only about how society shapes each of us, but also how individuals can shape society. We are all connected; therefore, lending a helping hand to even one of us benefits us all.

In her spare time, Claire enjoys hanging out at home in Ballard with her adorable Calico cat, Ophelia. Her favorite neighborhood spot is the botanical garden at the Locks, where she can sit under a tree and listen to the birds. Another of her interests is traveling, especially trips to New Orleans, Louisiana and Paris, France. She loves to read on her Kindle, too. Lately, she has been making her way through the 10 book series about Detective Kurt Wallander by Swedish author, Henning Mankell.

We are so excited to have Claire on our team! We know that she will keep Volunteer Transportation running smoothly and efficiently with her thoughtfulness, organization, and attention to detail.

 She can be reached at

Friday, July 31, 2015

Client Profile: Fern Malavaceo

Volunteer driver, Reta Beals, escorts Fern to an appointment.
71-year-old Fern Malavaceo does not know what she’d do without Volunteer Transportation.  Forty years ago, she decided that driving was not for her.  It caused her great anxiety, especially after she’d had multiple harrowing experiences behind the wheel on freeways in the rain.  She relied on her kids to take her to appointments when they could, but she often felt stuck when they were unavailable.  She registered for Volunteer Transportation three years ago and says, “The program is such a blessing!”

For Fern, Volunteer Transportation is about comfort and familiarity.  She explains, “The drivers are awesome!  They are so considerate.  They’re like family members to me.”  She loves how volunteers typically wait for her as she’s in an appointment and reports that she always feels supported throughout the whole process.

Fern (and others like her) make it clear that volunteer drivers have an amazing ability to ease stress and calm nerves.  They bring Zen to the art of giving rides.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Welcome, Kaitlin

The Volunteer Transportation program is incredibly pleased to welcome Kaitlin Sovich as its new Eastside/West Seattle Coordinator.  She is the perfect fit for this rewarding/challenging role!

Kaitlin, a native Floridian, grew up in Southwest Florida on the Gulf Coast. While in high school, her first job as a dining services and events associate at an assisted living community taught her that she wants to spend her career making the lives of seniors the best that they can be. She has looked forward to working with seniors again ever since leaving that job to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL in 2009. While at UF, she sought out work in a research lab focusing on memory and aging, and upon graduating with her B.A. in anthropology and sociology in May 2013, she went to work for the UF College of Medicine as a Research Coordinator in the Department of Health Outcomes and Policy.  After six happy years in Gainesville, in July 2015, Kaitlin and her partner moved to Seattle for new opportunities in life and work. Kaitlin is very excited to have joined the Volunteer Transportation team at Senior Services and finds working with seniors in this capacity to be dynamic and fulfilling.

In her spare time, Kaitlin enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cat, exploring her neighborhood, and spending time with her partner and friends in this incredible city.

We know that all Volunteer Transportation clients and staff will love working with Kaitlin as she uses her skills and talents to breathe life into the program!  Feel free to drop her a line at

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Helpfulness: A Word Reflection

Helpful is a word we hear over and over again in our office.  Seniors often call in and say, “My volunteer driver yesterday was so helpful.”  Our volunteers tell us that they find meaning and purpose in being helpful to seniors in need of assistance; “I like to be helpful,” they say.  It’s a word used so frequently that it has almost become ubiquitous. 

A quick Google search of the term produces the following:

1.      giving or ready to give help."people are friendly and helpful"
obliging, eager to please, kind, accommodating, supportive, cooperative; sympathetic, boosterish, neighborly, charitable

This Google definition provides us with other terms to describe our “helpful” volunteers: obliging, eager to please, kindaccommodatingsupportivecooperativesympatheticboosterishneighborly, and charitable.  All have slightly different connotations, yet they all are fitting descriptions of our volunteers.

No matter which adjective we use (no thesaurus necessary), it’s clear is that our volunteer drivers are amazing and much-appreciated!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Saying Thanks

This card arrived to our office earlier this week.
Clients of our transportation programs express gratitude in many ways.  Although we don’t expect or solicit appreciation, hearing “thank you” reminds our employees and volunteers of the value of our work.   

Our staff recently received a thank you note (that included a token of appreciation) from Gail, a regular client of Volunteer Transportation.  We can’t share the treats that she provided with everyone, but we’d love to share her message with all of you: 
It reads:

Dear Donald, Amy, Kailan & all others in the office whose names I don’t know & who also deserve thanks!!
Thank you all so much for helping me these last few years—you’ve been kind & helpful & patient – and you have all worked hard to find me many, many rides!
Here’s a mid-year treat I hope you all can share—
Cheers & gratitude—

In the spirit of gratitude, we’d like to publicly thank Gail for her thoughtful surprise! 



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“Behind the Wheel” offers stories, reflections, news, and updates about Senior Services’ Transportation Program. Throughout King County, our inspiring volunteers provide needed mobility to local seniors, supporting them in their efforts to remain independent, healthy, and happy. Please drop by to read more about the unique experiences of our volunteers, clients, and staff!
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