Friends in Action’s transportation program provides free transportation to elderly and disabled residents of Hancock County to a variety of destinations, primarily to medical appointments and grocery shopping. Client requests are matched with available volunteers.
Marion Dow, 92 years old, is still able to live on her own. She has always been an independent woman. In her younger days, she was divorced and raised three children as a single parent. She worked in a large textile knitting mill in Ellsworth that has been gone for over 40 years and is now a shopping mall. She is a soft-spoken woman of quiet faith, but one with a steely will. Her children all live elsewhere now but they worry about her and try to talk her into moving into an assisted living, which she consistently refuses. She has consented to some help in her home, a modest trailer. It is nestled along the edge of a large trailer park under the trees and she loves to be living in her own home. In her 80’s, Marion’s eyesight forced her to give up driving. She continued to work, however, selling Avon products every week. When she could no longer drive, she turned to Friends in Action for help. As often happens, she and her most regular volunteer, Candy, became good friends. Indeed, after many years, Marion has come to think of Candy as another member of her family. Their close and trusting relationship has allowed Candy to be a support to Marion as she has faced declining health and some confusing medical situations.
Her macular degeneration treatments were difficult for Marion to understand and Candy and other Friends in Action volunteers were able to help her communicate with medical staff. Indeed, her children call Candy at times to get more clear updates on Marion’s situation than they can get from Marion.
Marion’s health has been declining since she turned 90, and sometimes she cannot go out but every week a Friends in Action volunteer makes sure that she has her groceries. When a routine blood test showed she was dangerously anemic, the hospital staff knew to call Friends in Action and volunteers were able to get her in for a transfusion with less than an hour’s notice. Marion recently was awarded the Boston Post Cane by her town. Of course, it was very important to her that Candy be there for the presentation.
Having a volunteer develop a close relationship with an elderly client makes a great difference as the situation changes. Having a trusted friend you can turn to makes all the difference. So, while the service being provided to Marion is a ride, it is obviously so much more!