After writing the other day about the highest-need volunteer positions, I decided to do a ride-along and find out what the Community Transportation Program (CTP) was all about. Here is a little snapshot of my day with Michael, one of the newest volunteers for CTP, and the colorful members of the Columbus community who utilize the American Red Cross for their transportation needs.
Michael met me in the office at noon and we headed out in a CTP sedan. Our first destination was a satellite location of the OSU medical center, where our rider was waiting after an appointment. As we pulled up an elderly woman looked suspiciously at the car and then pointed to herself. Michael nodded.
“Are you here for me?”
“Is your name Sade?”
“Last time I checked it was.”
“Then we’re here for you.”
Sadie got in and buckled her seatbelt. Michael introduced me and I asked how she was doing today.
“Me and Arthur is having a fight. Arthur-itis that is. He’s the only man I haven’t managed to get rid of. I keep trying and trying, but he won’t go away!”
I asked Sadie a few questions about CTP, how long she’d been riding with our program and how she found out about it. I learned that she began riding with the program while she was undergoing chemotherapy at the James clinic. I knew she’d been through a lot worse than her fight with Arthur. It struck me, as we pulled up to the senior living community to drop her off, that she trusted the American Red Cross to get her where she needed to go. We helped her get through cancer. She knew we could surely handle arthritis.
My ride with CTP happened to be a slow day, we only picked up three passengers. There were long commutes between Mary, a recent widow who lived off Obetz road, and a young disabled man coming from a golf-centered rehabilitation program. The quiet stretches gave me time to get to know my driver Michael.
I asked him why he decided to volunteer for CTP. He said that he wanted to find a way to help people after he retired from a career with the Environmental Protection Agency. He had donated blood and made financial contributions to the Red Cross for years, but it wasn’t until he contacted us about volunteering that he learned about the existence of CTP. We’ve been driving people around Columbus for over 30 years. Many people must know about us, we completed over 19,000 one-way trips last year alone. But how many people don’t know that the Red Cross could mean life-sustaining transportation to and from doctor’s appointments or chemo treatments?
Check out the latest mission of CTP- The Weinland Park Initiative– helping people in the Weinland Park Neighborhood get where they need to go, with help from our friends at Chase bank.