Doris Peters doesn’t like to sit home, so on the third Thursday of each month she serves her community by giving folks a ride in her gray 2007 Buick.
The 84-year-old Kimberly resident is a volunteer driver for Making The Ride Happen (MRH), a transportation, information and assistance program of Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS).
The volunteer driver program provides transportation to individuals who live in Outagamie, Calumet and Winnebago counties who are age 60 and older, or those with disabilities who are able to walk independently. Peters, along with other volunteer drivers for Outagamie and Calumet counties, are members of the Retired and Senior Volunteer 55+ Program (RSVP), sponsored by the Volunteer Center of East Central Wisconsin. ADVOCAP works with volunteer drivers for Winnebago County.
“We have to get out,” she said, “We can’t just sit home. It gives us a good feeling that we’re able to help people who don’t drive anymore that need to get places.”
On the third Wednesday of the month, Peters receives a phone call from a scheduler at LSS who gives her the names, addresses and destinations of three people, along with a schedule of times. The schedule typically runs from 8 a.m. to noon. She usually gives folks a ride to doctor appointments, beauty salons, food pantries and grocery stores. If they have a walker, she simply folds it and places it in her back seat or trunk. Sometimes riders need help adjusting the seat belt.
MRH fills gaps for many folks when public transportation in not available or cost-prohibitive. It helps people who have limited options live independently in their homes and remain active and involved in their community. Mobility Manager Holly Keenan said the program allows people to do things that they ordinarily wouldn’t be able to do.
“Especially low-income people,” Keenan said. “If they’re getting therapy twice a week, they could use other services, but there’s a standard fee. For some people on very fixed income, our program allows them another option to do things.”
Peters agrees. “Even if they have kids in the area, they’re working during the day and aren’t available when they have appointments,” she said. “Cabs are expensive and some can’t take the bus because it’s not convenient or they can’t get up the steps.”
Peters enjoys driving and volunteers an extra day during the winter when other volunteer drivers travel south for the season. In addition to MRH, she listens to second-graders read at elementary schools in Kimberly for the last 12 years. She also visits a fellow member of First United Methodist Church who resides at Peabody Manor.
“I like to volunteer,” she said. “It’s just very interesting and I like helping people.”