MOLINE -- Using a walker makes it difficult for a Rock Island man to ride the bus to multiple monthly doctor visits.|
''The bus doesn't always stop right in front of the door you need to get in, so you sometimes have to walk a bit to get where you're going,'' Nathaniel ''Rick'' Rodriguez said.
A 2004 Buick Rendezvous driven by Nancy Olson, a volunteer from Helping You Inc., does, he said.
"She's great. She's always so nice, and she's always on time.''
Ms. Olson, 69, is one of the main volunteers in the 6-month-old assistance-care program for people with limited resources.
Helping You's transportation service component has become widely used, Ms. Olson said. In addition to taking people to local doctor's visits or to do other errands, a trio of Helping You volunteers have driven patients as far as to Iowa City, Peoria and Chicago hospitals, she said.
As a result, it's no big surprise the organization is looking for more drivers and contributions to cover fuel costs, Ms. Olson said. Clients contribute what they can, otherwise donations cover expenses.
Potential volunteers and donors could think about ''putting themselves in my shoes for a while,'' Mr. Rodriguez said. ''What would you do if you had to use a walker and couldn't get to your doctor's office any other way?''
Mr. Rodriguez, 55, of Rock Island, formerly of Brooklyn, N.Y., was diagnosed with neurosarcoidosis, a neurological disorder that causes inflammation in the brain, spinal cord and other areas of the nervous system.
''Doctors originally thought it was a tumor until they discovered it was affecting my lymph nodes and lungs,'' he said.
It started with a loss of feeling in his right leg, and eventually, he said, he began falling a lot. It requires him to visit doctors two or three times a month, with occasional trips to fill prescriptions, he said. ''I don't know what I would do if it weren't for Helping You.''
Ms. Olson has been a big help, Mr. Rodriguez said. ''She'd probably take me to get my groceries, too, if I asked her, but my wife's been able to take care of that.''
However, his wife, Julie Rodriguez, works extended shifts at her job at Alcoa and gets home too late to drive him to the doctor, he said. ''By the time she gets off work, their offices are closed.''
It feels more wonderful to help people such as Mr. Rodriguez get to his doctor visits, ''than just sitting home all day watching soap operas,'' Ms. Olson said.
Ms. Olson is retired from Vera French Pine Knoll and is a parish nurse at Church of Peace in Rock Island, where she persuaded a few church friends to occasionally drive, especially taking elderly people from local apartment complexes to computer classes.
''It does give you a wonderful feeling to know you're making a difference in someone's life,'' she said.
Plus, Helping You's been getting great support from local businesses to entice more volunteer drivers to join the effort, Ms. Olson said.
For example, Godfather's in East Moline has offered drivers a free buffet once a month, while Bridgeway Auto Parts and 24-Hour Towing has agreed to give volunteer drivers a free tow once a month, if needed, Ms. Olson said.
A & A 15-Minute Lube & Oil, in Moline and Rock Island, also will provide a free oil change three times a year to Helping You drivers, she said.
The organization's appeals for help have netted an autographed photo from actor John Travolta and some baseball documentary CDs from producer/director Ken Burns, Ms. Olson said. She hopes financial contributions from them also are forthcoming.
To contribute, volunteer or get Helping You assistance, call (309) 292-1475.
Donations to Helping You Inc. can be mailed to DHCU branches at 1101 13th Ave., East Moline, IL 61244; 4500 16th St., Moline, IL 61265; 371 W. 3rd St., Milan, IL 61264; 5354 Elmore Circle, Davenport, IA 52807; or 1090 S. Congress, Geneseo, IL 61254.
Mileage and time logged by volunteer drivers is tax-deductible, and liability waiver forms are available, Ms. Olson said.
Mr. Rodriguez hopes more people will consider volunteering because he hopes Helping You ''keeps going and growing.''
Silvis, IL Details
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