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I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions because, quite frankly, how often do we actually follow through? This year, I made one. My resolution was to do things that have more of a direct impact on people.

We’ve always donated our time (youth sports, scouts, yard cleanup, etc.), material items (coats, clothing, etc. to charity), food (always part of a food drive), resources (monetary donations where appropriate). While all of that is fine and dandy, I didn’t feel like it was enough – I wanted to make more of a direct impact without relying on someone else to decide who gets the clothes or how the money is spent.

It took awhile, but in September I found my thing. I love to drive and I have a flexible work schedule since I work for Hubby at home.

I signed on to be a volunteer driver for the American Cancer Society. Basically, once you’re checked out and approved, you volunteer your time, car, and gas to drive people to their appointments when they have no other means to get there. They may be elderly, they may not have a car, they may not have family with a flexible schedule (every day for 8+ weeks is a lot!), or they may be too sick to drive themselves or take public transportation. Does it really matter why? They need rides to treatment, period.

I’ve experienced a lot of “unexpected” in the past 8 weeks:

  • Making new friends. When you spend an hour or more in your car with someone a few days a week, you can’t help but get to know them. I’ve made a wonderful friend in patient A and found my new grandpa in patient B :-) Both amazingly wonderful people who’ve had something awful thrown at them.
  • Realizing the effects of cancer on people. I drove patient A to her very first appointment and to her last. Witnessing the changes in her has been eye opening – and heart wrenching – and a blessing. My life is easy and wonderful. There are SO many more important things going on out there than any problem I might run into! So so many.
  • Seeing the best in people. How patient A can genuinely ask me how my evening or weekend was every single time when she’s sometimes feeling so terrible is beyond me. How patient B can be so happy and upbeat and tell me he always looks forward to my rides while going through something so yucky is uplifting.
  • Receiving genuine thanks and gratitude from people who I’m simply providing a ride to. I’m taking them to the most awful part of their day and sometimes seeing them at their worst, and they welcome me with a smiling hello and thank me – profusely – every single time. Amazing.
  • Feelings of heartbreak when a patient cancels their rides, permanently. There are no words.

When I signed up for this gig, I had no idea how wonderfully fulfilling, life-changing, and heart-breaking it would be.

It’s the unexpected things . . . every day . . . that we need to embrace.

Feel like volunteering? Check out the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program.

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  1. I am very proud of you and I think it is so important to help these people. You would be a bright spot in anyone’s day. Love you so much.

  2. Shirley says:

    What a wonderful contribution to people who really need it. Giving your time to make someone’s day better is so wonderful. It’s a personal contribution that means so much to them. I’m sure they really appreciated your smiling face and upbeat personality. So proud of you!

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