Friday, October 10, 2014

Accepting Help

When seniors first sign up for Volunteer Transportation, they frequently express a sense of relief to have discovered the program.  They are eager to receive rides from our volunteer drivers and thankful to have the service available to them.   Their spirits are high. 

But this is not always the case. Often times, there’s a sense of reluctance as seniors prepare to become Volunteer Transportation clients.  They are hesitant, even resistant, to register for the program.  Family members sometimes clue us in to their states of mind, “My dad really did not want me to contact you guys!  He is just so stubborn.”

It’s more than just stubbornness that prevents clients from embracing our transportation services with open arms.  Accepting help is hard.  Our society generally frowns upon those who can’t manage things on their own; independence is a fierce American value.

Anne Togher of Philips Lifeline also reminds us of the generational factors at play.  She writes, “Most seniors today are part of the generation called the Traditionalists, or the Silent Generation,
and the way they grew up is considerably different than the generations following them and the generations serving them. They are the generation who experienced some part of the Great Depression, they worked hard, stayed in their jobs for decades, and saved their money. Their values include sacrifice, loyalty and contributing to the collective good. Asking for help has not been part of their vocabulary and accepting it is even harder.”

It is important for us to acknowledge that, especially initially, clients of our program may come to us from this place of ambivalence.  It may not have been easy for them to reach out to us at Volunteer Transportation, but we hope that they will be forever grateful that they did. 


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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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