Transportation service in need of volunteers

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The Moffat County Human Services Volunteers are looking for more help in the face of growing demand from local residents, according to coordinator Annie Reuer.

"It doubled in the fall," Reuer said of the agency's increased workload.

The Human Services Volunteers are funded entirely by the United Way, which pays for administrative costs, including the coordinator's salary.

But the agency relies on volunteers to carry out its mission -- transporting elderly or indigent clients to medical appointments at many locations in and out of town. The volunteers use their personal automobiles to give their clients a lift. The agency reimburses the volunteers for mileage.

The HSVs averaged between 20 and 30 trips a month during the last few months of 2003.

The volunteers, including Reuer have traveled to Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Meeker, Rifle, Grand Junction, Vail, Denver and Colorado Springs to deliver their clients to medical appointments. They also transport clients to many local destinations.

The HSVs work with two full-time drivers and two part-time drivers, but Reuer is looking to add personnel to accommodate everyone who needs a ride.

"We're just looking for someone who likes to be around people and wants to make a difference in the community," Reuer said.

Interested volunteers should be reliable and available, first of all. Also, they should have access to a car in good condition. A valid driver's license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance are required.

Helen McPherson has been working with the HSVs for 15 years. She's the former coordinator, who still helps out occasionally.

There's no doubt in McPherson's mind about the need for the service in Craig.

"There's no bus service from here to Grand Junction," McPherson said. Yet, patients often are referred to doctors in Grand Junction, McPherson said.

Many of the clients are patients seeing cardiac specialists. Also, Medicaid patients use the service to make dental appointments in Rifle, Glenwood or Grand Junction, Reuer said.

In one interesting case, a client needed a ride to catch a bus to a distant appointment to donate a kidney.

McPherson found the work to be an interesting way to meet people.

"You just kinda visit. It's a good way to get to know people," McPherson said. "People are more talkative when they don't have to look you in the eye."

"I loved working with the elderly people because they all have a story to tell," McPherson said. "The town has changed so much in their lifetimes."

While most of the transports involve only one client, the HSVs sometimes transport groups, such as a mother and a baby. McPherson remembers driving a family to an appointment in Denver.

Reuer said volunteers need not worry about driving to Denver in the winter. The HSVs do not transport clients over the passes in bad weather, she said.

The agency limits individual clients to three out-of-town trips per year. Also, it only will transport clients to medical appointments. Job interviews and Women Infants and Children (WIC) appointments do not qualify.

Interested volunteers can contact Annie Reuer at 846-0690.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com

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