Photo: Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media
Steven Block of Cheshire, who teaches criminology at Central Connecticut State University, has a “pretty flexible schedule,” so when he was on the lookout for a method to give again, he volunteered to drive most cancers patients to and from their remedies and physician’s appointments.
Since June 2016, Block has been considered one of about 300 volunteers throughout the state participating within the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program. “My wife and I had volunteered for a long time in other ways, especially at animal shelters,” Block stated. “This just seemed like a good fit to help people out who are in need.”
The most cancers society wants extra volunteers like Block. “The need is so high, especially in Connecticut,” stated Samantha Martinez, program supervisor for mission supply for the American Cancer Society’s Connecticut department. “We don’t have the greatest transportation here in a small state.”
In 2016, the most cancers society offered 6,857 rides to 408 patients in Connecticut, Martinez stated.
“Right now in New Haven County we’re at 34 percent unmet ride needs,” she stated. “Out of the requests that we receive, which would be around 1,500, that would be 500 unmet rides so far for this year because we don’t have volunteers who can fulfill those rides.” Martinez stated the most cancers society might simply accommodate 100 new volunteers, particularly in New Haven County, which incorporates Waterbury.
“There’s just so many treatment centers that are located in a small radius that we can utilize,” she stated.
Block stated he’s gotten to meet a variety of totally different individuals, united solely by being in most cancers remedy. “The people that I’ve driven have been fairly diverse, middle age to older patients,” he stated. “I don’t ask them in any respect about their conditions until they volunteer the knowledge.
“It can be a little bit of an emotionally difficult process because some of the people are really struggling,” he stated. “It is true that participating in this does make you appreciate … the health you have” and that of household and buddies.
“When you just see the variety of people whose lives are disrupted by cancer, it just shows you how many people it can affect in all walks of life,” Block stated. “Some of the people are quite able-bodied or people who you wouldn’t recognize that they have cancer if you saw them in a different context.”
Volunteering is a reasonably simple course of, Martinez stated. There’s an hourlong on-line coaching session, which incorporates privateness guidelines. Then the volunteer goes onto an internet site and enters “their availability and how far they’re willing to drive,” she stated. The volunteer then chooses from an inventory of patients’ addresses. Anyone from 18 to 85 can volunteer and there’s no minimal variety of rides that a driver has to join.
“Most of them are retired, looking for something to do … just looking for their purpose in life and looking to get involved,” Martinez stated.
Block — one of many youthful drivers at 33 — stated he seems for individuals whom he has pushed prior to now. “It’s something I particularly try to do if it’s someone I’ve driven before,” he stated. “You realize some similarities you have, even though you may be from separate generations.”
Block stated that if the affected person’s appointment goes on for a number of hours, he can depart and the hospital will name 15 to 30 minutes earlier than the affected person is prepared to depart. “Generally, I wait for them because in my case I always have my own work to do,” he stated.
Kevin Gibbons, who additionally lives in Cheshire, is retired from a gross sales job within the medical gadget business, so “I do know the place all of the hospitals are in New England … I find out about HIPAA [patient privacy law] and I can do CPR and all that stuff.
“I enjoy it. It’s painless,” he stated. “The people are nice and they’re mostly open about what’s going on in their life … and they’re appreciative of me volunteering my time and car.”
Gibbons has made himself out there inside a 60-mile radius. “One fellow I drove from Avon to St. Francis Hospital in Hartford two or three times and he was from Russia and his wife is in a wheelchair at home … and he really has nobody.”
Gibbons has pushed patients twice every week prior to now, although he’s solely doing it as soon as every week now. “But I intend after the holiday season to try to schedule two a week,” he stated.
“I’ve probably done at least 40 rides and there’s only a few that are … the same.” He’s even stopped at a retailer on the best way house as a favor to the affected person.
But whereas the volunteering isn’t troublesome, every journey may be time-consuming, Gibbons stated. “Each event is probably three to four hours,” he stated. “It’s at least a half a day of commitment.”
Gibbons stated he thinks lots of people would have an interest in the event that they have been conscious of the chance, “but you’ve got to follow through. After you’ve signed up, to me it’s a piece of cake.”
To volunteer, name the most cancers society at 800-227-2345 or go to http://cancer.org/drive.
Contact Ed Stannard at email@example.com or 203-680-9382.