I am a volunteer with Na Hoaloha, neighbors helping neighbors.
Last Spring I was working in their office for a couple of months although I filled out the paperwork, had the training and passed the background check (whew!) to be able to deal with their clients.
Yesterday I did my first BIG drive for them. A lady needed a ride to a small town 30 minutes from here for a doctor appointment. Finding her was the first task! She lives just a few miles from here in an apartment complex ... with over 50 buildings! Took longer than I thought to find her building, but I still arrived at her requested time. Which happened to be an HOUR before her appointment.
The biggest treat for some clients is simply having another human around. She talked and talked and talked. I am going to have to harden my heart a little. It is hard to imagine how rough life can be for our elderly. It's a mile to the nearest bus stop ... and Maui doesn't quite have the best bus service (although they are working on big improvements.) Once you have to retire from driving, a lot of your independence is gone.
She has government help with her rent but she still pays 33% of her income. She gets food assistance but you read my blog the other day about the high cost of food AND I have to drive to several places. She gets a bus ride to and from medical appointments which can take up 6 hours of her day for a 30 minute appointment.
The tiny little town she went to is filled with art galleries, glass blower, restaurants and quaint little shops. I had plenty to do for an hour although it was 12:30 and I wasn't even hungry. I came back to the car and read while I waited. Luckily, I had the handicap spot right in front of the building she went into! (I still have a permit from my surgery that expires at the end of the month).
While I was reading, a car stopped in the road next to me and honked. I figured it wasn't me since I wasn't even moving. She kept honking and honking and traffic was backing up behind her. She lowers her window and flaps HER handicap permit at me. I took mine off the rear view mirror and showed her I was indeed legal. She shot me the most nonChristmas scowl and sped off.
(Side note: When Mr. Ralph was ill, he still loved to go in the car and we often stopped to enjoy a view or share a treat, parking in the handicap spot. SEVERAL times people would come tap on our window ... to ask us to leave as they had a handicap permit (yes, we had one) ... or to ask how long we were going to hog the space (we never stayed longer than 15 minutes because he didn't have the stamina) or to tell us we couldn't use our Oregon handicap permit in Hawaii (maybe that's true but I can't imagine any police officer telling a dying man he can't watch the whales one last time)
Ten minutes later, crabby lady with handicap permit drives up next to me again. HONKING and lowered her window ... tapping her watch. I was kinda glad my client was HALF AN HOUR LATE leaving her appointment! I felt like staying all day ... with my back up lights on!!! Sheesh! Maybe she has more pain than the two of us do!???
I was getting a little restless when my client returned. She asked me if I could drive here and there on the way home. I had a vet appointment for Honeysuckle so I couldn't ... but what do I say? Then she started asking what days this week I was available ... she needed to pick up prescriptions, get groceries, go to WalMart, get her mail at the post office, etc., etc., etc. And could I take her next week for another acupuncture treatment.
I feel so guilty. The "rule" with Na Hoaloha is that they ask for as much notice as possible when you need a ride. They send an email to all the drivers in that client's area. I made her call and request while she was in the car with me (I had heard that she usually doesn't give enough notice ...)
When I was home, I emailed the coordinator and volunteered to make a trip to Costco once a month and I can take three people. I also volunteered to take a small group to Safeway on a Friday, also once a month. With a two hour max shopping trip each place.
Now I feel a little bit better!