Volunteering gives duo direction

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Sue Miller, left, and her son Ron, right, are quite a team of volunteer drivers at Family Service Kent. They’re shown here with Marjorie Crew, community development co-ordinator for the CHAP – Community Home Support Assisting People – program.
Sue Miller, left, and her son Ron, right, are quite a team of volunteer drivers at Family Service Kent. They’re shown here with Marjorie Crew, community development co-ordinator for the CHAP – Community Home Support Assisting People – program.

Community volunteers make people’s lives better and more complete; often, they help folks maintain their independence.

For Sue Miller, it is the volunteer work itself that completes her.

Sue’s husband passed away in April of 2011, just two years after they moved to Chatham-Kent. It left a huge void in her life, and that of her son Ron’s.

“After my husband passed away in April of 2011, I just had to have something do to,” she explained. “We went to see Marjorie (Crew at Family Service Kent), got our police report and it was a go from there.”

Now they form Team Miller. Sue, 71, is the driver, Ron, 40, who has a learning disability, is the copilot.

“We’re always together. It’s very rare that he doesn’t go with me on a drive,” Sue said of her son.

Sue said Ron’s disability doesn’t hold him back with volunteer work.

“If I’ve been some place to pick someone up, and we get a call, he always knows where to go,” she said. “He’s always very good. He holds the door. It keeps him active too.”
Marjorie Crew, community development co-ordinator for CHAP – Community Home Support Assisting People – the organization for which the Millers volunteer, has noticed how the Millers benefited from volunteering.

“When she came to us, it was right after her husband passed away. She was looking for something to fill the void; she needed something to do,” she said of Sue. “The change I’ve seen in them; you could see the life coming back into them. They had a purpose; they were giving back. They had that feeling of being needed.”

Sue said she and Ron cater to their clients’ needs.

“Doctors’ appointments, physiotherapy, sometimes just to the drug store. Whatever their needs are, we do that,” she said. “This helps maintain their independence.”

Sue said she leaves the client with her phone number. That leaves the person without worries about having to hurry.

“When they’re ready, they give me a call. We connect up again.”

Sue has gone from barely knowing the community to being quite familiar with most streets. More importantly, she’s gotten to know many of the citizens.

“I’ve met a lot of really nice people,” she said.

Marjorie said most of CHAP’s drivers are retired individuals who are looking for something to occupy their time. Many are seniors as well, helping other seniors.

“Sometimes, they volunteer for 10 or 15 years, which is great for us,” she said.

Drivers are reimbursed for their mileage.

Drivers take folks to and from appointments, or even to get groceries, Marjorie said.

“It helps people maintain their quality of life,” she noted.

Marjorie said she likes to have a roster of about 85 drivers, as it takes the pressure off those who drive all the time. Currently there are about 75 volunteer drivers.

They can drive as often, or as little, as they like.

Those volunteers are augmented at times by CHAP personnel too.

“We do have some staff drivers. We transport people with mobility issues. And our drivers fill in when we can’t get volunteers,” she said.

To learn more about the CHAP program, contact Family Service Kent at 519-354-6221.

As for Sue and Ron, chances are they’ll be driving for CHAP for some time to come.

“It gives me purpose to get up in the morning.”

Marjorie said she’s seen a big change in Sue since she first stepped into Family Service Kent.

“She had this look when she came into the office. You could just tell something was missing,” she said. “And you could tell, whatever it was, she got it back.”

 

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