Friday, August 30, 2013

Honorable Volunteers Needed for Honored Program!

We are pleased to report that Cindy Zwart, Director of Senior Services’ Transportation Program, recently received a unique recognition from the Washington State Association of Senior Centers.   Cindy was completely unaware of the fact that the group had fabricated a dinner meeting to present her with a Service Recognition Award—using this guise to recognize her work with the Hyde Shuttles.  It was a great surprise when the true purpose of the gathering was revealed as she was presented with a plaque that reads, “For your dedication, service, and contribution in meeting the needs of seniors and disabled in multiple communities.” 

Cindy was humbled by this award but acknowledges that it speaks to the value of the Hyde Shuttles.  Many local seniors and people with disabilities rely on this safe and reliable transportation service for needed socialization, errands, and life sustaining/enriching activities.   The Washington State Association of Senior Centers appreciates the profound impact the Hyde Shuttles have had in communities throughout King County. 

You have the opportunity to be a part of this award-winning program!  Caring and reliable volunteers are urgently needed to drive agency vans in Burien and Des Moines/Normandy Park.  We offer flexible hours and free training in defensive driving and passenger assistance.  You do not need a special driver’s license.   Spread the word!  Help us ensure that our valuable program can continue to meet the transportation needs of seniors and disabled folks in these communities.  Contact Hilary at to find out more or get started.   No surprises here—Hyde Shuttles volunteer drivers make a world of difference!!
Friday, August 23, 2013

Word Power

When entered into the Wordle program, statements of our clients and volunteers produced the following word cloud:

This collage captures many important themes of our program.  With the help of this visual tool, it just takes a moment to see/read what we're all about!
Friday, August 16, 2013

Letting Go

It's never easy to turn in one's keys.
Without a doubt, losing the ability to drive is an incredibly difficult process.  The National Caregivers Library explains that the majority of older adults experience emotional, mobility, monetary, psychological, and social loss as they make the transition from a driving to non-driving lifestyle.  The Caregivers Library also reports that age-related changes associated with driving often occur in a predictable sequence over a number of years and cause a gradual narrowing the individual’s social world. This progression includes the following steps:
  1. Physical and mental changes
  2. Age-related functional declines or skill loss lead to less driving
  3. Less driving leads to less overall mobility
  4. Less overall mobility leads to increased isolation and other quality of life changes
Furthermore, as these changes take place, seniors often feel guilty about asking friends and family for transportation.  They dislike feeling like a “burden” as they concurrently struggle with their decreased independence and socialization.

We understand that our program is not the be-all/end-all solution to the challenges faced by seniors adjusting to their new limitations.  However, our volunteers offer support and empathy to older adults who’ve found themselves in this frustrating situation. 

Hyde Shuttle and Volunteer Transportation client Shelby D. submitted a note that explains how the programs have impacted her life: “…I truly appreciate your efforts to make the lives of seniors a little less stressful…You provide a much needed services for those of us who have an impairment of some sort that limits our ability to accomplish something as important as medical care. I compliment your drivers on being some of the nicest and kindest people I have met in many years. They are reliable, cheerful, and, most of all, patient. The drivers and office staff go out of their way to make my life a little more pleasant.”

Shelby and other clients will never have all of their problems solved through our transportation programs alone.  Yet, in the context of so many difficult transitions and adjustments, we are happy to improve the safety and independence of non-driving King County seniors-- as well as make their lives just a “little more pleasant.”
Friday, August 9, 2013

A Powerful Pair: Bill G. and Sophie F.

There are many extraordinary individuals involved in the Volunteer Transportation program, and this story began as an attempt to profile two such commendable people: Bill Goodfellow (volunteer driver) and Sophie Friedman (frequent client).  However, it soon became clear that the most meaningful and significant messages would not be found in separate articles detailing their unique personal histories or contributions to the world at large.  Rather, the true inspirational lessons can be learned when Bill and Sophie are together.  After all, our drivers and clients do not exist in isolation; the value of our program comes from the interactions that take place between them.  Bill and Sophie are incredible people each worthy of recognition in his/her own right, but there is great poignancy in their time alongside one another.  Their special connection illustrates the compelling power of driver-client pairs.
Bill gently escorts Sophie to the door.

Bill is well-known around the Volunteer Transportation office because of his immaculate mileage sheets.  His clear printing and precision undoubtedly stem from his years as an architect, and his systematic way of thinking also translates to the way in which he carefully calculates the pick-up time for each of the 3-4 rides he takes on per week.  He has even created his own complex form that he uses to compute ride times/distances and record information about clients.  He explains, “It’s complicated in a way that I understand complications.”

Bill describes Sophie as “96 going on 60… or maybe even 16!”  She has an adventurous spirit and proclaims, “I love things I’ve never tried before!”   Her lifelong commitment to exploring new frontiers is apparent in the tales she tells about taking her three sons camping every summer for two weeks at a time (while her husband stayed at home) or taking her first nausea-inducing flight from New Jersey to Boston (with a stop in Hartford for refueling) on a propeller plane in 1935.  It must also be noted that Sophie made arrangements for this interview through email.  At 96-years-old, Sophie fully embraces new technology.

Sophie and Bill share a lot in common.  They both enjoy classical music; they both have a grandson named Gus; and they both appreciate good food and social occasions.  But perhaps their most unmistakable similarity is that they both have amazing stories.  When they are together, stories abound.   The time that Bill has spent driving Sophie to numerous medical appointments has allowed them to get to know one another so well that they can prompt each other to talk about their lives (“Tell her about your wife’s orchids”), and they can even finish each other’s stories.  The afternoon passes quickly as they talk about wide-ranging personal and historic topics, and they are surprised to discover that several hours have already passed.   Bill must quickly rush off as he discovers that he will be late to another commitment.

Sophie moved to Seattle from New Jersey (via Florida) two years ago, and she says, “Bill is the best thing that has happened to me in Seattle.”  Bill and his wife, Dee, have been a great source of support for Sophie, and it is evident that Bill is always looking out for her with a watchful and protective eye.  Bill and Sophie are certainly a dynamic duo, and much can be learned from this driver/client partnership filled with mutual respect and admiration.
Friday, August 2, 2013

Catch Phrase

Words can be powerful, persuasive tools.  Because our program faces the grim reality that we never have enough volunteer drivers to meet the need of our community, we are constantly trying to come up with the right words to attract new volunteers.  Here are some of our creative efforts to craft catchy slogans for the Volunteer Transportation and Hyde Shuttle programs:
  • Reach out and drive someone.
  • The road will never be the same again.
  • Sheer driving pleasure.
  • The ultimate driving experience.
  • We’ll put you in the driver’s seat.
  • ‘Driven’ with compassion.
  • The drive of your life.
  • We are driving excitement. 
  • Drive Your Dreams.
  • Driving is believing.
  • Drive up.  Dream up.
  • Drivers and passengers will never be the same.
  • You have a ‘license’ to make a difference.
  • Keep our wheels spinning.
  • Imagine the stories you’ll hear.
  • Imagine the places you’ll go.
  • Our volunteers accumulate "miles and miles" of positive impact.
  • Help us leave no senior behind.
  • Let’s get seniors out and about.
  • Take a turn in the right direction—become a volunteer driver today.
  • Rides change lives.
  • Let the journey begin.
Do you have any good ideas?  If so, please email them to me at  To end with a tagline, let’s “drive the distance” to ensure that more caring volunteer drivers are making a difference in the lives of King County seniors!

About Me

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“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!
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