Words and Photos by Naomi Schwimmer, Red Cross volunteer
When you hear the word “independence,” what comes to mind?
The concept means different things to different people; but for some it can simply mean the ability to do your own grocery shopping. That is the idea behind Wheels of Independence, a program provided through American Red Cross Transportation Services. The Red Cross transports residents from The Glens, a local independent-living community for adults older than 55, to shopping trips at WalMart twice a month. There they can fill prescriptions, shop, socialize and even get a little exercise.
“Many of our residents struggle with depending on their families and don’t want to feel like a burden,” said Dianne Bennett, program coordinator at The Glens. “This helps them tremendously to live on their own.”
Bob Quick, a regular driver for the program, picks up The Glens residents up at their home, brings them to a nearby WalMart for 2-3 hours, and drops them back off at their door. Many clients say it’s not just the ride they appreciate, but also having him there to help them load and unload all their shopping bags.
“I’m almost 90 and can’t lift heavy things because of my hip and spine,” said Margie Conover, one participant in the program. “Wheels of Independence helps me very much.”
Quick says he has gotten to know The Glens residents like family. He‘s even gotten to know their dogs! He said he enjoys volunteering because he likes helping clients feel a sense of independence and sympathizes with the thought of wanting a self-sufficient lifestyle but being unable to drive.
“If I couldn’t drive, it would be nice to know there’s someone to help you out. The Red Cross is there to help.” he said.