News events, press releases and reportage from local media outlets:
Bill Miller, a volunteer driver with Drive a Senior West Austin, has been named one of nine “RecognizeGood” Legends for 2016. RecognizeGood is a local nonprofit that highlights ordinary individuals who inspire their community by going to extraordinary lengths in service to others. Nominees are voted on by past Legends, with each new Legend receiving a $1,000 donation to the non-profit of his or her choice. Each Legend is also entered in the annual “Say Thanks, Austin” campaign, where community members can cast thank-you votes for their favorite selfless servant. The Legend with the most votes receives a $10,000 donation to that favorite non-profit.
The Say Thanks campaign runs from January 5-30 and voters may vote online, by email, via text message, on social media or with a paper ballot. Anyone may vote once per day, using each voting method, so a truly committed voter could tally 156 votes single-handedly. The voting methods are:
- CLICK Bill’s name at the “Vote Say Thanks, Austin” link at recognizegood.org
- TEXT BMILLER to 512-456-9244
- MESSAGE BMILLER to facebook.com/recognizegood
- TWEET BMILLER to @RecognizeGood with the hashtag #saythanksaustin
- EMAIL BMILLER (in the subject line) to email@example.com
- WRITE your name, then sign and date where indicated on a Say Thanks form (Download at recognizegood.org).
Bill, who retired from the U.S. Air Force, has been driving for Drive a Senior – West Austin since 2007. He has chauffeured 760 trips with senior riders who need a lift because they want to continue living at home but no longer drive themselves. He makes those trips – to doctor’s appointments, grocery stores, pharmacies – about four times a week, sometime more than once a day. All told he’s logged more than 17,000 miles for Drive a Senior. Besides his driving duties. “On top of that,” says West Austin Drive A Senior Executive Director Martha Stuber, “Bill is always the first to volunteer to do the minor home repair and yard work that our clients often need.” Once a week he drives veterans to the VA Hospital in Temple.
Bill is an inspiring example of the kind of folks that serve their senior neighbors through Drive a Senior’s volunteer network. Together they provided more than 35,000 rides in 2016 for more than 2,500 active senior passengers. The network expects the need to expand in the years to come and is seeking to add at least 300 new volunteer drivers in 2017.
The Drive a Senior Network’s continuing appeal to add volunteer drivers got a boost in October from stories by KVUE TV and the Austin American Statesman. News reporters from both newsrooms went on “drive-alongs” and interviewed riders and drivers about the benefits of the program.
The KVUE story aired on the 6 o’clock news October 11. The camera crew went along on a ride with Eileen Cossey, a Drive a Senior passenger since 2013 and volunteer driver Susan DeGraffenreid. Network drivers take Eileen to visit her husband in a care facility twice a week. The camera crew also attended a meeting where the magnitude of the issues facing live-at-home seniors who no longer drive came into clear focus. “In Central Texas we have one of the fastest-growing populations 65-75 in the country,” said network board member Mary Sue Clyne. The need is increasing. In 2015 Drive a Senior provided 29,800 rides. In just the first nine months of 2016, that number stands was more than 27,000.
(View the complete videocast.)
The Statesman article (Sunday, October 30) pointed out that monthly have gone up about 30 percent with a 20 percent increase in clients served since 2015. The article outlined some of the issues facing the Drive a Senior Network, including upgrades to some of the vans that are now in service and the need to add 250 volunteer drivers in 2017. The story also touched on the personal side of the Drive a Senior experience. “It’s very rewarding,” said board member Bill O’Brien, who also drives senior passengers three times a week. “The thanks you get is the most sincere you’ll get in your life. They really appreciate it.”
(See the full article.)
Last year during Amplify Austin’s 24-hour Live Here Give Here campaign donations to the Drive a Senior network provided enough funding to provide an entire year of rides for 180 of our senior clients. In 2016, we hope to boost that total and provide at least 20 more seniors who want to continue to live independently a full year of rides – a total of 200 “years of rides.”
You can help. Mark your calendar for March 8-9, 2016 and:
- DONATE DIRECTLY to your regional Drive a Senior Amplify Austin page.
- SHARE with FRIENDS and FAMILY by following us on Facebook, Twitter or “good old-fashioned” email and pass along the word on how others you know can contribute.
- CREATE YOUR OWN fundraising effort. Share a loved one’s story on a personal contribution page and perhaps inspire your neighbors to donate or volunteer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a how-to guide that shows you how easy it is to set up a personal page.
This year’s donations will be amplified even more than in the past because each individual’s generosity will be matched by the St. David’s Foundation. And thanks to the Round Rock Community Foundation, Drive a Senior will not pay any fees to participate in this campaign. That means 100 percent of the money raised will go directly to support local seniors with essential services.
So please, keep us in mind on March 8 and 9.
Drive a Senior has been named an Impact Austin Community Partner for 2015 and awarded an $80,000 grant to support its programs for Central Texas seniors who continue to live independently but no longer drive. The grant will be used to increase a pilot program that offers free van rides for seniors, who need to get to doctor’s appointments, make grocery runs and attend social engagements. The assistance from Impact Austin will allow for 2,300 extra van trips for 200 more seniors than Drive a Senior now serves.
“Aging is inevitable but we don’t have to do it alone,” said Drive a Senior Executive Director Serita Lacasse. “The assistance from such an empowering group of women (Impact Austin) will make a difference and be the key to senior independence.”
Impact Austin is a “collaborative giving” association of several hundred local women philanthropists who each contribute $1250 a year to support local non-profits who serve the community in health and wellness; culture; education; environment, and family services. “We are proud to award Drive a Senior with a 2015 Focus Area Program grant,” said Impact Austin’s Executive Director, Donna Benson-Chan, at a June 23, 2015 press conference. “They are helping isolated older adults to maintain their independence, connect with others, and lead healthier lives.
Drive a Senior has been helping seniors maintain a safe home environment and stay active in their communities for more than 30 years by providing companionship and mobility – largely through individuals who volunteer their time and their personal vehicles. The van program allows the group to extend its service areas and add more riders to its rolls.
Amplify Austin 2015 was a great success for the Drive a Senior Network, with three times the donations as last year and more than twice as many donors contributing. The gifts totaled more than $35,000, not counting any matching funds (which are still being calculated). To those who participated during the 24 hours of giving March 5 and 6 Drive a Senior sends a huge “thank you for amplifying your senior neighbors’ independence through your Amplify Austin donations. Your support will provide 150 clients with a full year of free transportation. And an enormous thank you to the St. David’s Foundation for a generous match.”