Giving a friend a ride is an easy way to earn a few quick karma points — and fortunately the American Cancer Society and its Road to Recovery program is in the market for qualified drivers.
Last year, six volunteers provided 172 rides to 10 cancer patients all throughout Centre County.
Dmitri Kisselev works with ACS to help coordinate rides between motorists and passengers across five counties — Centre, Clearfield Somerset, Elk and Cambria.
We are feeling very fortunate locally because people are very giving.
“We are feeling very fortunate locally because people are very giving,” Kisselev said.
Years ago, he stayed at the ACS lodge in Philadelphia while receiving treatment for cancer and was impressed by the generosity and dedication of the people who worked there.
His illness eventually retreated — the desire to give back did not. Now he manages up to 20 transportation requests a week.
It feels good to volunteer and people need to know that.
The one constant variable is whether there will be enough supply to keep up with the demand. Prospective drivers can initiate the process by contacting 1-800-227-2345 or visiting cancer.org/volunteer.
After a brief training session, volunteers can work entirely around their own schedules or even check online to see if there are patients in the vicinity who might be in need of a ride.
Kisselev has seen the resulting arrangement turn into a rewarding experience for both parties — especially the patients, who gain a little companionship on what can otherwise be a lonely road.
“I think that is one of the most important things when you don’t feel that you are alone,” Kisselev said.
Ken and Nancy Fogleman, of State College, have been volunteering with the program since 2014. They have driven people as far as Pittsburgh for treatment, sometimes going beyond the call of duty by stopping for groceries or a nice meal.
“It feels good to volunteer and people need to know that,” Ken Fogleman said.