Volunteering for a cause you believe in should be a rewarding experience for you, your family and your community, not another chore added to your already packed to-do list.
The American Cancer Society in Massachusetts this new year is asking residents in the Cape Cod area to consider lending their time to the Road To Recovery program, which provides free rides to anyone going to cancer treatment appointments. The flexibility of the commitment and easy online scheduling of rides accommodates drivers from all backgrounds, but the satisfaction of connecting cancer patients with life-saving treatments is the real benefit, many say.
“Road To Recovery gives drivers like me a chance to help patients get to vital appointments,” said Roger Medeiros, of Braintree, who began volunteering with Road To Recovery nearly 10 years ago, soon after he lost his wife to cancer. “I’m retired, so I don’t care about the time or distance, and it really helps me feel useful. Everyone is so appreciative of the rides.”
Volunteer drivers with Road To Recovery donate their time and use of their vehicles and sometimes provide encouragement and support. Passengers may not own a car, can’t afford the extra gasoline or may be unable or too ill to drive. They might not have access to public transportation or have no family members or friends who are able to postpone work or other activities to drive them.
In Massachusetts last year the Road To Recovery program provided 6,209 rides to 384 patients, but hundreds more ride requests went unmet because of a lack of volunteer drivers.
“I spoke with a man once who was paying for taxis from his home in Wareham to his treatments in Brockton,” said Medeiros, who also volunteers at the American Cancer Society’s Framingham office. “One woman I drove had previously taken public transportation from Fall River into Boston for her appointments; getting there was OK, but coming home was difficult because she was exhausted.”
It is estimated that more than 37,000 Bay State residents will be newly diagnosed with cancer in 2017, and getting to their scheduled treatment will be their greatest concern.
To volunteer, you must have a valid driver’s license, a safe and reliable vehicle and proof of automobile insurance. Drivers must be 18 years of age or older and have a good driving history. They arrange their own schedules and can commit as many or as few hours as their schedule allows. The American Cancer Society provides free training to drivers and conducts criminal background and driving record checks.
To learn more about becoming a Road To Recovery volunteer, contact 1-800-227-2345 or www.Cancer.org/volunteer.