LBFE looking for volunteer drivers

Photo provided by Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly Former Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly staff member Irene Corrales, right, helps LBFE volunteer Vi Richards get into the organizations medical transport van. The organization needs volunteer drivers for the medical transportation program.

HANCOCK — One of the services Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly provides to its friends is free medical transportation, and Ren Olson said the organization is in need of volunteer drivers.

“We have an ongoing need for medical transportation drivers,” said Olson, who is LBFE medical transportation co-ordinator.

The program provides for pick up at the home of the person at least 60 years old needing transportation to various kinds of medical providers and back, if the person wants a return trip, Olson said.

Although the program usually has about 60 volunteer drivers, Olson said not all of that number are in the area all the time.

“If we have half of them available, we’re doing good,” she said.

This week, Olson said there were 28 drivers available, and 23 drove the elderly friends to appointments in the Hancock/Houghton area. Five went to the Marquette area.

Olson said the medical transportation program provides door-to-door service. The driver picks up the elderly friend at his or her residence, and takes that person to the medical appointment, which includes private physicians, specialists, optometrists, dentists, and podiatrists. The drivers will take the friends into the office. If the person wants to be taken home from the appointment, the volunteer driver will do that, also. The drivers can either wait at the office, do errands, or if it’s close enough, they can go home. The drivers leave a telephone number at the office so they can be called when the appointment is finished.

It sometimes happens that the elderly friend won’t need a ride home, Olson said. If the friend is taken home by the volunteer driver, no stops on the way are allowed.

“We do not drop people off along the way,” she said.

The drivers help the person needing a ride get into and out of the vehicle, if they want help, Olson said. The drivers always fasten the riders’ seat belts, which must be worn, also.

In order to become a volunteer driver, Olson said a valid driver’s license and up-to-date vehicle insurance are needed. Most drivers use their own vehicles, but the volunteering includes paying for gasoline.

“We do not reimburse for gasoline,” she said.

Before becoming a volunteer, Olson said an orientation must be attended. Those wishing to be a driver say so at the orientation, and they are sent to her. Background checks are conducted on volunteers.

Olson said LBFE has two vans, including a wheelchair-equipped van, which drivers sometimes use to take friends to their appointments. Other LBFE vehicles may be available if a driver temporarily doesn’t have a personal vehicle, but it would need to be reserved ahead of time.

Medical transportation drivers are expected to provide a minimum of two transportations each month, Olson said. They can give a preference for what areas they’d like to drive.

“We find out what geographic location they would like to do,” she said.

Currently, Olson said there is a special need for drivers to go to the Marquette area.

Olson said LBFE works with several local community organizations, and that cooperation is appreciated.

To become a Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly volunteer medical transportation driver, call 482-6944 and ask for Ren Olson.