Published on: Thursday, October 1, 2015 Takoma Park Newsletter

Village Rides can give you a lift

By Trey Johanson

Editor’s Note: For people who need a ride, whether temporarily or on a regularly basis, Takoma Park’s Village Rides program can be a lifesaver. The program pairs volunteer drivers (who have been trained and screened) with residents who need a lift. Here is one example, compiled by Trey Johanson, who helps administer the program through the Jewish Council for the Aging.

“Let me tell you the background,” began Jackie Davison of Victory Towers in Takoma Park. “Now, I am a very good driver, but I totaled my own car in January. I have always been independent, so it was a trauma to have to be dependent on somebody else.”

Davison, like so many of our elders, is a confident, capable, active contributor to her community. She is the president of the Victory Tower Tenant Association. She is not a woman used to relying on others. But, when she had a doctor’s appointment, she needed a ride to Bethesda. She had recently attended a presentation by the Village of Takoma Park in which she learned about its volunteer driver services. So, she made the call.

At first, she was concerned. “Do they know how to drive? Will they be prompt?” She was concerned about the safety and dependability of the drivers. She was also concerned about the process. “Sometimes you call for volunteer services, and you can tell they’re not really together,” she said. “I was impressed by the professional approach. The intake was very thorough. And, lo and behold, the driver was prompt and friendly!”

“I find Sandy just very interesting. We have good conversations and she’s just good company. And she’s a very, very good driver!”

Davison chuckled, “I called again another time, and I slept through my alarm! Sandy [Egan, the driver] called me and said, ‘I’m here, where are you?’ I had to apologize for that one!

“I find Sandy just very interesting. We have good conversations and she’s just good company. And she’s a very, very good driver!”

When asked why more of her neighbors might not ask for help when they need rides, Davison could only guess. “It takes people a while to try something new,” she said. “I find in general the people here are just reluctant to take advantage of new opportunities, and I don’t understand that, to tell you the truth.”

“About a third of our residents are nonEnglish speaking,” continued Davison. “Our bulletin board is all in English. We are only reaching out to two thirds of the people who live here! And, non-English speaking residents are increasing, just like in the overall population.”

Davison’s message seems clear. If our communities are to serve our elders, we must reach out to them respectfully, steadfastly and responsibly. We must communicate in their language, and from their cultural viewpoint. We must be a consistent, reliable presence in their neighborhoods. And we must be worthy of the trust they place in us, when they do ask for our help.

To learn more about Village Rides, see a video about the program, to participate or to volunteer go to www.villageoftakomapark. com/village-rides-program-recruiting-ridersand-drivers or call 301-255-4212.

This article appeared in the October 2015 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.