Clem Mascarenas: Serving seniors one ride at a time
December 25, 2015
Craig — He'll pick up your prescriptions, carry your groceries and charm you with his smile.
For Craig's over-60 population, especially those who can no longer drive, Clem Mascarenas is a beloved and familiar face.
"Oh, they could never have found anybody better," said Phyllis Bingham, in her 80s. "He can even make grumpy people smile."
Mascarenas, known simply as Clem to most, drives the “Senior Express," a bus for Moffat County seniors that gets them nearly anywhere in Craig they need to go during the week.
A Craig native, Clem worked at Safeway for 20 years before becoming a chauffeur to the seniors, a role in which he's served for seven years this month. He takes great joy in getting people to and from their destinations and even more joy in figuring out how to help them in other small ways.
"You get to meet all kinds of people. They have hard lives, so you want to make it easier on them," Clem said as he took calls and made his rounds. "You just want to meet their needs with gentleness."
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Clem starts his weekdays at about 7:45 a.m., picking people up from Sunset Meadows or their homes to go to doctor's appointments, hair appointments, the bank, or other errands. He'll cover 70 to 100 miles on an average day — all within a five-mile radius of Sunset Meadows Senior Apartments — and recently logged 114 stops on a particularly busy day. His rounds also include regularly scheduled trips to Walmart, City Market and Kmart.
"When you go to the store, all of us old folks, when he brings you home, he carries in your stuff, or brings it to the door, whatever you need," Bingham said. "If it's icy, he helps each person get to and from the bus so they don't fall."
Bingham — whose oldest son is the same age as Clem — used to give him rides to school decades ago along with the other neighborhood kids.
"When I inquired about the senior bus, he said, 'I owe you a few rides,'" Bingham said with a laugh.
Equally important to Clem is supporting seniors in getting out in the community to socialize. One regular passenger by the name of Bill relies on a ride twice a week to get to his standing date at the bowling alley.
"Socializing… is great therapy, so we definitely want people to get out of those four walls," Clem said, referring to their homes or apartments. "I use this for socializing, so it's healthy for me, too."
Clem's dedication to service and kindness is reinforced by his religious faith, and his joyful demeanor is a bright spot in many seniors' days.
"It doesn't matter if it's man or woman, he's there, he helps them, he's good to them and he's always got a few cheerful words," Bingham said.