Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pink Purses and Open Doors

The following was recounted by a regular, long-term client of the Volunteer Transportation program:

“There’s one particular driver who takes me to many of my appointments.  Each time he picks me up at my home, he consistently insists on carrying my purse as he helps me get down the driveway and into the car.  I usually have a bright pink purse that is hard to miss.  Unfailingly, he poses and asks me teasingly, ‘Am I color-coordinated?’  Every single time, I tell him, ‘You’re always color-coordinated!’  It’s our ongoing joke as he opens the car door for me.” 

I like the imagery that this story produces: a senior being gently escorted as she leaves her home, a volunteer and client laughing together, and a driver kindly opening the car door for his fragile passenger.  “Opening doors” is an apt metaphor for this program.  We strive to help seniors get out and about-- and hope to make them laugh in the process (pink purses and color coordination are not required!).

**Please note: We are always on the lookout for great stories from members of the Transportation Program community.  Please send any ideas to

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Volunteer in the Limelight: Harry Tipple

One could say that Hyde Shuttle Volunteer Driver Harry Tipple is a “professional” volunteer.  In addition to serving as a volunteer shuttle driver for three shifts per week, he also spends his “free” time at the Homeward Pet Adoption Center and Lake City Way Food Bank.  Moreover, he somehow manages to find time to support his four grandsons and will most certainly cheer them on at numerous youth soccer games this fall.

Yet, even with so much going on in his life, Harry is incredibly focused.  As I recently rode along with Harry during one of his shifts, it was clear that he was a natural at driving the shuttle.  Perhaps from his past experiences driving motor homes, he is cautious and alert as he maneuvers the van through various obstacles that one might encounter with such a large vehicle.  He notes that he definitely needs to have a “heightened awareness” as he drives, yet he appreciates this challenge.  He always enjoys learning something new and admits to having a “boys with toys” attitude with certain pieces of equipment on the van (such as the wheelchair lift). 

On top of being careful and attentive, Harry manages to remain caring and interactive as he drives.  He loves learning about the passengers and often finds himself reflecting on their lives: how one rider is able to seem so young at 85 years of age, how another can stay so up-to-date with modern technology, or even what the clients of the program would do if this service were not available to them.  Harry is certain that it’s the people that keep him coming back week after week, and it is obvious that the passengers enjoy spending time with him as well.

Thus, Harry is well-suited as a Volunteer Hyde Shuttle Driver, and it is quite appropriate and advantageous that he has chosen to add this role to his volunteer "career!"
Monday, September 24, 2012

The End of a Legacy: Volunteer Shuttle Driver Retires

By Brady Wright

Some say all good things come to an end, but those milestones are worth noting when they go by.  We are blessed to have had so many years of service and dedication from Gene Moon, our very first volunteer driver for the Hyde Shuttle in Des Moines, especially since Gene has decided to retire this month.  It’s not often that we can celebrate a first, but Gene was not only the first volunteer driver for the Des Moines/ Normandy Park Hyde Shuttle, he was the first volunteer driver in the entire system.
Gene has been an indispensable driver for nearly 15 years.

Gene’s friendly face and gentlemanly manner has been an anchor for riders in our community for almost fifteen years!  For some time now, his regular Wednesday afternoon van has been filled with folks who really look forward to seeing his smiling face, rain or shine.  Gene is known for making sure that every rider gets the best experience, always stepping out to greet folks and offer an arm or handshake.  He is one of the best standard-bearers of our service and to say that he will be missed is a huge understatement. 

Gene has plenty to keep him busy.  He has many hobbies, including hot rod cars, and you can see that he spends as much care on them as he does on each and every rider!  Gene and his wife, Kaylene, will have plenty to do with their time and we know we’ll see them at the Activity Center quite often.  At an Appreciation Lunch in October, the Center was filled with Gene’s friends and co-workers and he was given the Shining Star award by Cindy Zwart, the director of the Transportation Department of Senior Services!

With Gene taking it easy, we now have a terrific opportunity for the next superstar volunteer to step up in Des Moines.  Driving for the Hyde Shuttle is a great way to give back to the community and help your friends and neighbors get to and from the places they want to go!  As Gene can tell you, it’s only a few hours a week, and all the training is provided.  No special license is needed and all you have to do is call Brady Wright at the Activity Center to apply at 206-878-2066.  You can email direct to if you have any questions.  We currently need at least two drivers, but more would help this wonderful service to expand even more!
Saturday, September 22, 2012

Firsthand Testimonials: Outreach on the Road

Our interactive display

By Hilary Case

On the constant quest to meet the volunteer needs of the Transportation Program, my role as Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator can lead me to a variety of unique settings throughout King County.  This week, it took me to the Burien Farmers’ Market.  Although the chilly temperatures had my spirits a bit low, they were soon lifted as I met proponents of the program.  Clients and volunteers alike surfaced to remind me of what it’s all about.

One pair of women, who informed me that they use both the Hyde Shuttle and Volunteer Transportation services, came to shake my hand and thank me for being a part of such an “important and helpful program.”  I also had the opportunity to talk with current volunteers, who explained why they find giving rides to be so gratifying.  Larry Moormeier, who has served with Volunteer Transportation for over ten years, shared about recently giving a ride to an inspiring 99-year-old client.  It was easy to promote these volunteer opportunities after unexpectedly receiving such positive feedback from people who know them well.
Larry Moormeier,
“incognito” Volunteer Transportation driver,
out and about at the Burien Farmers' Market

All in all, it was a successful day.  I left with a warm and happy heart.

**Note: We are always seeking more ways to spread the word about Transportation Program volunteer opportunities.  If you have any volunteer outreach ideas, please contact Hilary at

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Volunteer in the Limelight: Deeon Kuspert

When Deeon Kuspert began her role as a volunteer driver, a gallon of gas cost $1.09; movie tickets cost $2.75; and a US postage stamp cost 22 cents.  28 years later, a lot has changed…. But Deeon is still serving with Senior Services’ Volunteer Transportation program!

Deeon can’t think of anything she’d rather do than drive local seniors to their appointments.  Over the years, she has built up quite the camaraderie with people she drives.  Each week, Deeon picks up Covington/Maple Valley clients at their homes and drives them to the doctor. 

Deeon loves the flexibility of the program; every year, she spends two months in Arizona and resumes volunteering when she returns to Covington/Maple Valley.  She also gets to choose the days and times she volunteers, and where she wants to drive. 

We are glad that Deeon has stuck with the program for so long and commend her for the huge difference she has made in her community.  A lot may have happened in our world during Deeon’s time with Volunteer Transportation, but her positive impact has remained consistent throughout these 28 years.

About Me

My photo
“Behind the Wheel” offers stories, reflections, news and updates about Sound Generations’ (formerly 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!
Powered by Blogger.