This is the second in a series of volunteer profiles for Volunteer Recognition Week.
For the past 13 years, Bill has been driving children to visits, appointments and schools, first as a contract driver and now as a volunteer. “Some of them I drove almost every day for two years,” he says. “You become a constant in their lives – they come to rely on you and trust you, when some of the other people in their lives might have let them down. You get to know a lot of really good kids.”
Bill took up driving when he retired after working more than 31 years at B.F. Goodrich. Retirement got boring fast: “I just couldn’t sit around too long,” he says. But he was also looking for something that offered flexibility, so that he and his wife could travel or take long weekends when they wanted. The driver role worked out perfectly.
The experience has been very positive. “You have to like kids to begin with,” he says. “And be prepared that some of them have special needs or challenging behaviours, so they can be harder to handle.” As a father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Bill has plenty of experience in understand and working with kids.
He was surprised when he started to work with Family and Children’s Services to discover how many families are involved with the agency. “A lot of parents need some help, more than you might think,” he says.
For volunteers, he adds, there are some great rewards. “Some of the kids start out bad-tempered and uncooperative. But as the year goes by, you see them doing better and better. You know that someone is working with them, and whatever they are doing is helping. It’s a good feeling to see that progress.”
He also likes the structure that volunteering adds to his life. With some drives scheduled, he can then plan his other errands and relaxation time around them, giving balance to his day. “It keeps me busy, out of trouble, and off the streets,” he says.