s
s
Sections
Sections
Subscribe
You've read 3 of 10 free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to Petaluma360.com, the Argus-Courier e-edition and our mobile app starting at just 99 cents per month!
Already a subscriber?
You've read 6 of 10 free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to Petaluma360.com, the Argus-Courier e-edition and our mobile app starting at just 99 cents per month!
Already a subscriber?
We hope you've enjoyed reading your 10 free articles this month.
Continue reading with unlimited access to Petaluma360.com, the Argus-Courier e-edition and our mobile app starting at just 99 cents per month!
Already a subscriber?
We've got a special deal for readers like you!
Get unlimited access to Petaluma360.com, the Argus-Courier e-edition and our mobile app starting at just 99 cents per month, and support community journalism!
Already a subscriber?
Thanks for your interest in award-winning community journalism! To get more of it, why not subscribe?
Get unlimited access to Petaluma360.com, the Argus-Courier e-edition and our mobile app starting at just 99 cents per month, and support community journalism!
Already a subscriber?
Want to keep reading? Take the next step by subscribing today!
Starting at just 99 cents per month, you can keep reading Petaluma360.com, the Argus-Courier e-edition and our mobile app, and support local journalism!
Already a subscriber?

Urgent need for volunteers to drive homebound local seniors

X

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

X

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

When Mark Reed opened the front door Wednesday to Bill Crowley’s apartment in Petaluma’s Theatre District, he noticed a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon placed on a hallway table with the message, “Happy New Year, Mark.”

Crowley slowly and carefully sat on a chair next to the table and thanked Reed for the ride home from the adult day program at 25 Howard St. It’s only a few blocks away but Crowley, 77, couldn’t do it without Reed’s help.

“I think he’s a gift from heaven. He takes good care of us,” said Crowley, referring to Reed’s participation in the iRide Petaluma volunteer driver program run by Petaluma People Services Center.

The program, one of five in the county, provides free rides to people over age 60 who can no longer drive or have disabilities. And with the holidays over, the need for volunteers has become more urgent, as family members who may have visited left.

This week, Sonoma County human services officials put out a call for volunteers. In some cases, interaction with a volunteer driver is all the socialization some homebound seniors get.

“It gets pretty slow during holidays because family is around,” said Lauren Garibaldi, coordinator of volunteer driver program iRide Petaluma. “And then after the holidays seniors are by themselves again and the need definitely increases.”

Garibaldi said medical appointments are the most common trip for seniors using the service, while other destinations include trips to the gym, grocery store and “socialization” visits to places like the local senior center.

About 320 seniors are registered with the iRide Petaluma program. Between 30 to 40 seniors use it regularly.

The county’s driver programs use trained volunteers with their own cars and gas who can make a commitment to drive as much or as little as they want.

Reed, 59, a retired chemical engineer who worked 32 years for 3M Co. and now lives in Petaluma, has been an iRide volunteer for the past five years. The Petaluma retiree said he does it about three times a week, averaging three rides a day.

Reed also volunteers as a driver for Meals on Wheels and the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program, which shuttles cancer patients to and from treatment appointments.

“I do something every day, really,” said Reed.

Countywide, volunteer driver programs provide 10,000 rides annually to 530 seniors, said Diane Kaljian, director of the county’s Area Agency on Aging, which sponsors the programs. Kaljian, who is also assistant director of county human services, said about 100 drivers serve those seniors.

Isolation among seniors is one of the biggest risk factors for older adults, Kalkian said.

“It contributes to depression, which contributes to a lot of health and psychological issues that are detrimental to older adults,” she said. “Isolation makes people vulnerable to abuse and neglect. It may be that people neglect their own health or put their trust in other people that they shouldn’t.”

Supervisor Shirlee Zane, a longtime advocate for seniors, said senior transportation is one of the county’s top issues as the population grows; there are now 125,000 residents over the age of 60.

“Transportation programs are critical because they get them to appointments, especially medical, and it keeps them socialized,” she said.

Volunteer driver Reed acknowledges that at some point he may also need the help of an iRide volunteer. Volunteering is a way to help in the meantime.

““It’s such a small commitment,” he said. “It can be as little as 20 minutes per ride.”