Friday, March 6, 2015

Volunteer in the Limelight: Kathe Kern

One of our incredible volunteer drivers, Kathe Kern, is featured in Senior Services' latest e-newsletter.  You can find it here, and we've also pasted it below for your enjoyment.  We are so glad that Kathe (and all 5 of her boys) have been a part of the Volunteer Transportation program for so long!   

Volunteer driver Kathe Kern and client Tamaya Nomi.

Kathe Kern has been on the road for 25 years, and counting.

Senior Services volunteer driver Kathe Kern has always believed in giving her time to help others. With a degree in zoology and chemistry she began her first volunteer gig—reading and recording textbooks for blind students. But when her first son came along, Kathe found she could no longer make recordings. Babies are loud! 

Fortunately, Kathe came across a Senior Services ad in the newspaper for volunteer drivers to take seniors to medical appointments. The gig seemed perfect as it allowed her to put her little boy in the backseat and take him along. Twenty-five years and four more boys later, Kathe is still driving. All five kids—one or two at a time—accompanied her as she went from her Mercer Island home all over the east side and Seattle with elders needing rides to the doctor.

Kathe says her boys learned valuable lessons from the experience. “I drove a woman who had cancer,” she remembers, “and she yelled at me. The boys’ eyes got as big as the moon, since they knew no one was allowed to talk to mom that way. Later I explained that the lady was very sick and maybe dying, and this is one of those times you have to be understanding.”

Senior Services’ Volunteer Transportation program provides door-to-door rides to medical appointments and back for seniors who are not able to drive themselves or manage public transportation. Last year, 800 caring and dedicated people—many of them seniors themselves—volunteered to help elders get to their doctors. 

According to Kathe, the rewards of driving are great. “It has been as good for me as for the people I drove,” she says. “They’re good company and we tell each other our stories.” The clients have been appreciative and always loved seeing Kathe’s kids.

Though the boys are grown now, Kathe still drives several times a week. “It gets me out of the house!” 


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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