Today, I drove my car to the gym and back. I drove my daughter to preschool and then I drove to the office. During the day I drove my car to and from a meeting. And I will drive home. I did all of this when I either wanted or needed to and my car worked as I expected it to. I admit, I take it for granted.

Perhaps you have a similar experience with your mode of transportation.

For many of us, we rely on our personal vehicle to get us to work, school, the doctor, the store and any number of other destinations throughout the day.  We rely on our vehicle as a part of our ability to fully engage with the world around us. Imagine if tomorrow your vehicle was no longer available or perhaps you were no longer able to drive due to any number of reasons. It can lead to isolation and even depression because you are unable to interact with friends and family.

The truth is thousands of our neighbors face that reality each and every day. Including the inability to go to the doctor’s office when needed.  That is why Neighbors partners with Dakota County and area foundations to provide a transportation program we call Dial-A-Ride.  Here is a story about how we were able to assist a local resident in need of a ride to medical appointments.  We will refer to him as “Joe.”

Following a life changing stroke, Joe needed a lot of medical attention and was no longer able to drive.  As a part of his recovery plan, Joe was able to find a once-a-week program to assist with re-developing his cognitive abilities.  In addition to each session lasting five hours, the class was several miles away from home and would require someone to drive him to the appointments.

Joe’s wife works full-time and was finding it hard to be able to leave work as often as he needed for his rides.  Thankfully, she had heard of our transportation program. She called Neighbors and we were able to schedule a volunteer driver to provide rides for Joe’s weekly appointment.

During the past few years, Joe has continued to receive rides from a volunteer driver.  While the drivers change from time to time, they all have reported how much they enjoy taking Joe to his appointments.  This experience has not only enriched Joe’s life, it has enriched the many volunteers he has gotten to know.

Joe’s story exemplifies the hundreds of riders (and volunteer drivers) that participate in our Dial-A-Ride program. If you or someone you know could benefit from our Dial-A-Ride transportation program, please contact Neighbors at 651-306-2143. We are always looking for more volunteer drivers as well.

Reprinted with permission. Originally published in April 2019 issue of the South St. Paul Voice.

Editorial written by Charlie Thompson, Neighbors, Inc. CEO.