Monday, November 23, 2015

Seattle Times Spotlight

We were delighted to see our program, including volunteer driver Bill Goodfellow and client Mary Roberts, featured in this article in today's edition of the Seattle Times.  We were profiled because Senior Services is one of twelve local agencies that will benefit from the Seattle Times Fund For the Needy.  What an exciting opportunity!

We'd like to share the story's narrative about Volunteer Transportation here:

Seniors helping seniors
While some Seattle and King County residents enjoyed an economic resurgence after the recession of 2008, those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder have not shared in the prosperity.

In the annual overnight count of homeless in King County early this year, volunteers found 3,772 men, women and children had no shelter, more than a 20 percent increase from the previous year.

Alison Eisinger, executive director of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, called the tally “heartbreaking evidence that we cannot cover our community’s most basic needs.”

The numbers of people in need are large. The Census Bureau estimates that 60,000 children and 20,000 seniors in King County are living in households below the poverty level.

As baby boomers age, the ranks of elders swell. Today’s “youngest” oldsters may need to stay in the workforce longer, or live more years in which they’ll depend on Social Security and savings.

In the effort to help seniors, Senior Services uses a particularly effective resource: other seniors.

Of the 3,800 volunteers that put in a combined 274,000 hours last year, the agency estimates that 85 percent were at least 60 years old.

Among them is Bill Goodfellow, of Seattle, who’ll turn 80 in December.

For seven years — usually several times a week — he has driven Senior Services clients to doctor visits or other appointments. He stays through their appointments and takes them home.

The retired architect and structural engineer happily gives up the time. If the appointment is a long one, that’s fine, he said. It gives him more time to read the library books — including many mysteries — he has downloaded onto his iPad.

Goodfellow forgoes the money Senior Services offers for gas and parking, as do other drivers he knows, who consider it part of “their contribution to the program.”

Mary Roberts, 89, of Seattle, gets dropped off at her
dentist’s office by Senior Services volunteer Bill Goodfellow.
(Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times) 
The unsung heroes of the program, he said, are the Senior Services staffers who, a week at a time, match up ride requests with the available drivers.

Senior Services’ ride programs took clients a total of 1,113,422 miles last year, the equivalent of more than two round trips to the moon.

The best part of the assignment, he said, is meeting interesting people, such as Mary Roberts, 89, whom he recently drove from her Capitol Hill apartment to her Beacon Hill dentist.

Mary Roberts, 89, of Seattle, jokes around with
Senior Services volunteer driver Bill Goodfellow, who turns 80
in December. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
A few years ago, Roberts might not have envisioned needing this service. But that changed when she got in a serious car crash while driving to a square-dancing session in West Seattle.

“No one was injured, thankfully. But I decided it was a sign. I couldn’t take the thought of hurting someone.” So she hung up her car keys for good.

Roberts, a retired materials-purchasing manager for a railroad, enjoys walking and doesn’t mind the 12-block walk to her church, Capitol Hill Presbyterian.

But she’s glad to have the option of Senior Services rides to doctor visits. She makes donations for the rides — but still less than she’d have to pay if she used a taxi.

And she regards Goodfellow as nothing less than an important civic asset.

“He just a really sweet guy,” she said. “And we’re fortunate to have him.”


 As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, we give thanks for Bill and all the rest of our our amazing and inspiring volunteer drivers!

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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