Driving with purpose

When you think about volunteering, what comes to mind? The food shelf? Soup kitchens? Big Buddies? Your church? These are all excellent places to explore options for volunteering, but there is also an amazing volunteer opportunity with Community Transit.

Volunteer drivers provide an essential part of the five-county public transit service administered by Western Community Action’s Community Transit program. Volunteers meet transportation needs that can’t be met using regular public transit vehicles.

The personal attention of a volunteer driver is sometimes exactly what is needed to allow someone to travel, even on short, in-town trips. However, in our rural area, there are also a lot of miles between destinations, and not all of them can be covered by a bus.

When someone calls Community Transit for a ride, dispatchers begin looking for the best way to meet that need. Volunteers are often the best option for getting people where they need to go, whether that means an out-of-town medical appointment, a family gathering or anywhere else. Community Transit volunteers set their own schedule by accepting or declining trips as they see fit.

Volunteer drivers donate their time, but they also receive a mileage reimbursement to help with vehicle upkeep and the cost of fuel.

Since the reimbursement rate does not exceed the IRS mileage reimbursement rate – currently 56 cents per mile – it is not considered taxable income. And the service they provide is priceless to many in our community.

“I can make an appointment, and I know I can get there,” said a rider who has used Community Transit volunteers to get to Sioux Falls for cancer treatments. “Without this service . . . it would be devastating, really.”

We are currently looking for volunteer drivers throughout Southwest Minnesota. Contact Community Transit today for more information or visit www.wcainc.org/transit to print off an application.

Get behind the wheel, and you can help make someone’s life better.