Volunteer drivers needed for non-emergency transportation

There is a critical need for volunteer drivers to provide non-emergency medical transportation in northeast Michigan and local agencies are seeking assistance.

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Northeast Michigan has partnered with agencies in need to help fill this critical need, as well as to provide enriching and fulfilling volunteer opportunities in Alpena and Montmorency counties. The agencies seeking drivers include the Alpena County Veteran Affairs, Alpena & Montmorency County MDHHS, District Health Department No. 4, and the Region 9 Area Agency on Aging.

Some local agencies provide free transportation for eligible patients who do not have a car or are unable to drive themselves to their medical appointments; however, the lack of drivers is one of the largest volunteer voids in the local area.

“We have many veterans that rely on volunteer transportation,” said Dennis Szatkowski, veterans service officer for Alpena County. “Volunteer drivers provide a critical need by transporting veterans to and from medical appointments between Alpena and the VA medical facilities in Saginaw, Ann Arbor and Detroit. We are currently in need of more volunteers to keep this service going at no cost to the veterans in need.”

Each agency looks primarily to volunteer drivers for assistance in providing this needed service. According to Rick Houchin, RSVP Coordinator, all drivers receive free training through the agency they choose to help and have the flexibility to choose when and how often they drive. Through partnership with RSVP, drivers may also be eligible to receive additional mileage reimbursement and excess insurance coverage while volunteering.

“We are incredibly lucky to have these organizations providing this much needed service. Lack of reliable transportation is a huge issue in our rural area,” Houchin said. “Local service agencies offer programs to help, but their success depends on volunteers willing to assist where they can. Volunteering as a driver is a wonderful opportunity to truly make a difference. “

To learn more about RSVP, call 989-358-4637 or email rsvp@nemcsa.org.

RSVP is sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service, Aging and Adult Services Agency, and the Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency (NEMCSA). NEMCSA is a private, nonprofit Community Action Agency that provides many programs and services throughout 11 northeast Michigan core counties: Alcona, Alpena, Arenac, Cheboygan, Crawford, Iosco, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego and Presque Isle. For more information about NEMCSA services, visit www.nemcsa.org.