Friday, September 27, 2013

Donation Messages

We never require anyone to pay for our valuable transportation services.  However, clients are able to send in donations to give back to our programs, and they often include thoughtful messages of appreciation to accompany their financial contributions.  Here is one such note that we received from 90-year-old Alma:

It reads, “Thank you so much for this service.  I am 90, still drive locally here in Renton.  Can get to my Primary Care Dr.  But cannot drive on Highways to get to Seattle or Belleview.  It is good to know that I have help to get there.  The drivers are so helpful.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Alma.  Wish this could be more.”
We are very grateful for all of letters, donations, and calls we receive in support of our work.  They serve as constant reminders of why we're here!
Friday, September 20, 2013

Small World Story

Clients and volunteers of the Volunteer Transportation program never know what connections they’ll discover through their conversations.  Here is one such small world story that was shared with us by Barbara H., volunteer driver:

“Today I picked up a lady I had not given a ride to before, and she looked familiar.  I asked her if she had worked at the University of Washington (where I had worked) and she had.  Turns out, I knew her when she was the secretary to the Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics on the 3rd floor of the RR wing of Health Sciences at the same time I was secretary to the Head of the Division of Neonatology in the same department, located on the 4th floor.  She was a bit more wrinkled but otherwise by golly she was the same!  She remembered me and we reminisced and caught up on all the gossip that we were aware of, even though it had been almost 25 years since we had seen each other!  Made for a very pleasant ride for both of us!”

It’s amazing how many shared experiences, crossed paths, or commonalities can be uncovered in a short trip to the doctor’s!
Friday, September 13, 2013

Gateway Trainings

Because of their unique role, our volunteer drivers have the tremendous potential to serve as bridges—or gateways—connecting seniors to other needed services.   But it can be overwhelming or confusing to determine what to do or where to turn when a senior is in need.  Therefore, we have collaborated with Senior Services’ Information and Assistance (I & A) program to offer three Gateway Trainings for our volunteers.   These seminars are intended to support participants in deciding why, how, and when to make referrals to the appropriate contact, as well as what typically happens once a referral has been made. 

Linda Phillips, I & A Advocate, conducted our first Gateway Training on September 10 in Shoreline.   She described some of the typical signs demonstrating that a senior is in need of additional assistance (including but not limited to):
Linda provides volunteer drivers with various case studies.
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Strong odors on person and/or in home
  • Depression, confusion, forgetfulness
  • Substance abuse
  • Caregiver stress
  • Financial and social problems
  • Physical losses
  • Yard and/or pets neglected
  • Home needs repair
  • Recent change in behavior.
If one of these red flags is observed, Linda recommended that volunteer drivers share their concerns with their Volunteer Coordinator/Scheduler, or the I & A program can be contacted directly at: 206-448-3110, 1-888-435-3377, or  She further explained how I & A advocates may make additional referrals/reports (e.g.:  to the Geriatric Regional Assessment Team or Adult Protective Services) if needed.  Overall, the hour-long training was very informative, and volunteer drivers received answers to many of their questions.

If you were unable to attend the Shoreline gathering, do not worry! We will host two more: one on Tuesday, September 24, at the Des MoinesSenior Activity Center @ 3:00PM and the other on Tuesday, October, 15, at the North Bellevue Community Center @ 3:00PM.  Please RSVP to Hilary at if you'd like to come.  Additionally, the video embedded at the top of this post (produced by St. Luke’s Eldercare Services) provides similar information.
It is our hope that we can all work together to gently direct seniors and their family members to curative services, fostering improved quality of life for this vulnerable population.
Friday, September 6, 2013

Volunteers Support Volunteer

Nancy R., an 83-year-old Bellevue resident, used to volunteer regularly in the Radiation/Oncology Department at the Overlake Hospital until the unfortunate day that she tore her rotator cuff.  She consulted with her doctor, who determined she would benefit from weekly physical therapy appointments.  But as a Medicare patient, her options were limited to facilities in either Issaquah or Kirkland-- none in Bellevue.  She was unable to drive herself to either location or pay for cabs, so her doctor recommended Senior Services’ Volunteer Transportation to assist her.

Nancy has been incredibly happy with her VT experience* (*SEE HER LETTER BELOW) and has been able to dramatically improve her health over the past few months. She states, “Both the Doctor and the Physical Therapist are very pleased with my progress. Now that my health is improving, I can move on with my life.”  Nancy has recently resumed volunteering again at Overlake.

Just as Senior Services’ Volunteer Transportation has helped Nancy get to her medical appointments, Nancy has been adamant about promoting our program to family, neighbors, and friends.  She has even copied her own brochure and has given the information to her doctors in hopes that Volunteer Transportation can assist others.  Nancy has direct experience with the benefits of Volunteer Transportation, and she knows how vital this program can be for others to remain strong and independent. 

We wanted to share Nancy’s exact words with you, so here is the typed letter she sent to our office:

To: Senior Services
Re: The Volunteer Transportation Services

This is a tremendous organization, and it has been a real BLESSING for me!  Without it, I would not have been able to take the Physical Therapy I needed when and where my Doctor wanted me to take it.  Every one of your drivers that I met was most helpful, friendly and wonderful.  I was greeted with a smile, asked if I need help, and talked to as if I were an old friend.  All these things in a time of discomfort and maybe a little stress were an enormous gift!  I knew when I called I would get a time if it was available and if not, Amy would work with me for the next best option.  Usually, my contact was Amy, but I also talked with Donald and Jacob—all gracious and working to help me.

I have recommended the program to other people, and given copies of your brochure to 3 Doctors’ offices. 

I think you can tell that I have no complaints!  Just a sincere and heartfelt THANK YOU!

Nancy Reynolds

It’s always affirming to receive such positive feedback from the clients we serve, and we appreciate Nancy’s efforts to spread the word about our program to others in need.  It also brings us much satisfaction to know that our program helped her get back to the volunteer commitments, routines, and activities that support her overall wellbeing.   Keep up the good work, Nancy!

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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