Bobbie Rudolph has been a driver for The GO Program for three years and has provided 445 rides to older adults.
When Bobbie faced unexpected early retirement, she was looking for something to do, and found inspiration in a letter from JFS. The letter stated that they were offering three free rides a month to local older adults, and offered the opportunity for more drivers to sign up. She went through training and began driving her first clients.
Bobbie chose this volunteer opportunity because of her mother, who never drove. At the age of 16, Bobbie got a car and was expected to drive her mother everywhere. “At the time that I retired, my mother had passed away and I figured, I’ve experienced driving older people, so why not do it? I’ve been doing it ever since,” she said.
Bobbie’s role as a volunteer includes meeting each senior where they are, helping them get into the car as well as arranging any adaptive equipment like walkers, and dropping them off wherever they need to go. It also includes working with the seniors’ preferences – Bobbie has one client who hates if someone opens the door for her, whether it’s a car door or the door to a doctor’s office, so she learns each client’s wishes and respects them.
Without Bobbie's help, clients might otherwise have to wait a long time for transportation. One of her clients said that he used to have to wait an hour for a van from the grocery store, in which time his milk would go bad. Like driving oneself, Bobbie finds it important to be able to drop off and pick up her clients in a timely manner.
Bobbie made a particularly strong impact in the life of one woman who she gave rides to three times a week. By the time she hit 300 rides overall, 100 of these rides were for this same woman. In October, she fell, and she now lives at Country Meadows, but when Bobbie saw her children at the High Holidays, they expressed appreciation for all she had done.
As for why Bobbie continues her volunteer work, “I enjoy the people.” Some Allentown residents knew her mother, and others are parents of friends who are still working and are unable to drive them around. Regardless of client background, “everybody seems to appreciate it and it makes me feel good,” she said. She is particularly appreciated for stepping back at doctors’ appointments – whereas the clients’ children tend to go into the doctor with them and ask questions, Bobbie waits in the waiting room with a book and gives them the autonomy they want. Overall, for Bobbie, “it’s being able to help people” that keeps her coming back.