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.


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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