How to become A Road to Recovery driver
1. Log onto http://volunteertodrive.org
2. Click “I’m Ready To Apply”
3. Send your completed forms to Transportation Director, American Cancer Society, 4991 Lake Brook Drive, Suite 75, Glen Allen, Va., 23060, fax to Transportation Director, 804-273-6904, or email your scanned application with your original signature to firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Once the paperwork is processed, you will be notified to go back to the website and click “I’m Ready To Train.” The American Cancer Society will contact you when a ride is needed that meets your availability. For more information, contact Rachel Joiner at email@example.com or 770-297-1220.
Cancer is scary enough without having to worry about transportation to and from life-saving treatments.
But a simple car ride can make a huge difference in a cancer patient’s recovery.
“Through the (American Cancer Society’s) Road to Recovery Program, patients who have no other transportation available to them are able to successfully complete treatments without interruption due to missing appointments, thus increasing their chances of a successful outcome,” Elida Lopez, patient resource navigator for the American Cancer Society and Northeast Georgia Medical Center, said in an email.
The program matches patients with volunteer drivers who are trained through the cancer society before they can transport patients. The training takes a little longer than an hour but covers everything from confidentiality to what conversations are appropriate while driving.
The drivers must have a background check, a valid licence and insurance.
“It’s pretty straightforward,” Rachel Joiner, program manager of Hall and Clarke counties, said. “If you’re a safe driver and you’re willing to commit the time, then we’d love to have you. And it’s not a big time commitment.”
Once drivers are trained, they begin receiving notification about what times patients need to be picked up or dropped off. Drivers can choose which routes to take based on their availability.
Joiner said it’s a strictly voluntary program. Sometimes drivers can’t commit to daily commutes but they can help out once a week.
Every trip makes a difference in the patients’ lives.
“They have no other way to get to treatment and the treatment is what saves their lives,” Joiner said. “Imagine being diagnosed with cancer and not having a way to get the treatment you need to stay alive.”
Joiner said the program needs at least another five drivers in Hall County to help more patients.
There are currently only about 13 drivers in Hall County.
Julie Spielman, program coordinator and volunteer driver, said the group transports about three patients a week. Spielman is a four-year cancer survivor.
“When a patient has daily radiation treatment for six weeks, it can be very difficult for a family member to get that much time off to take their relative to treatment,” Spielman said. “As a patient, when you are in the fight for your life, it is nice to know people care about you and want to help you get the treatment you need to win the battle of cancer.”
Carol Scott, volunteer driver, said the program is a great opportunity for retired people, like herself, to get involved and make a difference.
“There are so many people here in Hall County that don’t have anybody,” Scott said. “They don’t have a husband, or a wife, or a son, or a daughter that can take them. If you don’t have something like the Road to Recovery Program, they can’t get to their chemo or their radiation or their lab work.”
Scott and her husband, both cancer survivors, have been volunteering with the program for the last three years. At one point they were the only two drivers in the county.
Scott laughed about how she would drop one patient off for chemotherapy and her husband would pick him or her up that evening. They spent a lot of time on the road.
Sometimes the patients live in rural areas; the longest trip Scott has made is a 61-mile round trip.
Drivers aren’t compensated for their miles , but they are tax deductible.
While they were a bit busy driving patients to and from appointments .it has always been a very rewarding experience, Scott said.
And as cancer survivors themselves, they have a special understanding of what the patients are going through.
Scott said it’s easy to sense the relief of the people she drives when they hear her say she’s a 30-year breast cancer survivor.
The best part is watching the patients get better.
“There are a lot of volunteer things out there that people can do but this is just one that really you can feel good about,” Scott said.