Carolyn Baldwin wanted to do her part to give back to her Encinitas community. When she found the Encinitas Senior Center right next door to the local Community Center, Ms. Baldwin saw an opportunity to do just that and began volunteering as a driver for the Center’s Out & About Transportation Program.
The Out & About Program offers eligible Encinitas seniors the opportunity to travel around town, run errands, go to doctor appointments and visit the Encinitas Senior Center for food and activities through a volunteer driver service. The program provides seniors with a sense of freedom and independence and helps them maintain a good quality of life. It provides them with a sense of comfort and helps alleviate some of their transportation concerns.
When Ms. Baldwin volunteered, the Senior Center paired her with a 93 year old senior named Sybil. The two became fast friends and they looked forward to seeing each other every Tuesday when they got together to run errands. Sybil found out that Ms. Baldwin grew upside-down cherry tomatoes which were her favorite. Ms. Baldwin would supply Sybil with a steady stream of tomatoes to share with those at her lunch table at the Seacrest Village Retirement Community. Sadly, Sybil recently passed away, but even days before her passing Ms. Baldwin was able to visit her with the latest batch of tomatoes which made them both so happy.
"No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another,” said Gail Dupler, Out & About Transportation Coordinator for the Encinitas Senior Center. “Our program began in 2002 and is proudly serving 68 passengers with 50 volunteer drivers. However, with our growing passenger waiting list, we need more drivers to accommodate the passenger demand.”
Volunteer drivers support the program by offering just a few hours of free time each week to help make a difference in a senior's life. Those interested in becoming a volunteer driver are required to have a current driver's license, registration, car insurance, a clean DMV driving record, Live Scan and an approved application. Once approved, the Senior Center pairs volunteer drivers with a passenger that would benefit from the days and times the volunteer driver is available. Volunteers are reimbursed for miles driven.
“Serving as a volunteer driver helps our seniors be independent and feel valued,” said Dupler. “Helping seniors with their transportation needs is a great way to give back to your community and pay it forward.”
About the Encinitas Senior Center
The Encinitas Senior Center is a gathering place to socialize, stay active and connect with others with similar interests. There are approximately 65 programs offered to participants age 50 and older. Programs include Arts and Crafts, Computers, Dance and Movement, Fitness, Games, Music, Nutrition, Outreach Services, Special Interest and Transportation. Transportation is one of the greatest needs for the aging population and one of the most challenging. The Encinitas Senior Center is doing its part to help get seniors out and about.