Jan Myhre has volunteered all throughout her adult life.
“I don’t do it because I get so much back, but you do. When you give of your time, you just can’t help but get more back,” said Myhre, whose latest venture into volunteerism has her spending two or three days a week driving seniors to their essential medical appointments for the Calgary Seniors’ Resource Society.
Robert Palmer started volunteering with Calgary Seniors about a year ago.
“It’s very rewarding because the seniors are very friendly and appreciative and it’s, it’s just fun,” said Palmer, who at 82 is also a senior.
“After my wife died, I was looking for some way of giving back to the community and I managed to find Calgary Seniors and it was just what I was looking for.”
As thankful as Palmer is for the opportunity to give back, one of his regular rides, Sharon Harrison, is just as grateful for the service.
“Oh the service is wonderful!” said Harrison. “Door to door, they wait with us, back home, and the bonus is I’ve met so many interesting, nice people.”
Harrison, who is in her seventies and is blind, said she would have to rely on taxi services before she found Calgary Seniors a couple of years ago.
“When I used to catch a cab, then you’re trying to get a cab back — it was just such a hassle,” she said.
“They don’t walk you up to the service, and being blind, this is such an important part that I’m taken right to the appointment.”
Harrison is one of 900 clients registered in the Calgary Seniors’ Resource Society’s escorted transportation program which has been running beyond capacity since the start of the pandemic.
“Right now we have about 85 seniors on our waitlist and that’s not including the cancer patients and the seniors with urgent needs that we’ve been accepting as we get them,” said Emma Mattos, a program supervisor at the Calgary Seniors’ Resource Society.
Mattos said her group has registered all seniors on the waitlist twice before, but as the numbers continued to grow throughout the pandemic, they’ve had to reinstate it.
And now, with the launch of a new program to take seniors for their COVID-19 vaccinations, the group is desperately in need of more volunteer drivers.
“We decided to call it transportation for vaccination,” Mattos said of the new program. “So it’s kind of just like a sub of our escorted transportation program, but it will help seniors on the weekend and in the evening as well.”
She said Calgary Seniors is hoping the evening and weekend opportunities will attract more volunteers who might otherwise be working during the day.
“So we’re trying to do a big push, so we make sure that transportation isn’t a barrier for any senior and getting their vaccination for COVID(-19),” Mattos said.
Anyone looking to volunteer for the program must go through a phone interview and police check and must have a good driving record.
Applications can be found online or by calling 403-266-6200.