Drivers wanted on cancer patients' road to recovery
Wanted by the American Cancer Society: Westmoreland County drivers with time on weekdays to shuttle cancer patients to and from doctor visits.
The society's Road to Recovery program, which organizes the rides, desperately needs volunteers.
“The program's there, but we need help,” said program coordinator Dianne Ostop of Greensburg, who has had five bouts with breast cancer. “I really don't have enough drivers. That's where our problem is. The program is just amazing, and we really, really need it.”
Ostop said she can't meet patients' needs. In some months, that has meant more than half of the ride requests have gone unfilled.
“I haven't had a month where I could fill everything,” she said.
Her roster of drivers numbers 20, six of whom are active. Each month, she fields about 25 requests for rides.
She expects the shortage to grow more acute as winter approaches and some volunteers head south for the season.
The 15-year-old program has helped more than 50,000 people nationwide, Ostop said.
Volunteers pick up patients at their doors, drive them to the doctor's office, then take them back home.
Requests for help have grown because of the economy, she said. Many who ask for rides are senior citizens who don't drive, while others are low-income families. Some families with a sick child need to care for the child on the trip and can't do the driving.
“A lot of them have said they've worn out their welcome with friends and family,” Ostop said.
Ostop works around drivers' schedules, knowing that some can volunteer only during certain months or certain hours. Even volunteering one day per week or month helps, she said.
Drivers undergo training and a security check. Most drivers use their cars for the program. They are not reimbursed for their time, their gasoline or their parking fees. They don't accept money from patients.
“They're giving up a lot to do this, because they want to,” Ostop said. “They do a fabulous job.”
But the drivers do get something thing in return, she said: “It just does your heart good.”
“They get a lot back,” she said. “It's just the chit-chat back and forth. ... There's so many stories, and it just brings tears to your eyes.”
Volunteer Ron Machens knows the bonds and friendships formed during the program.
Machens understands that some people might not like to drive into Pittsburgh or might be deterred by the cost of gas. But to him, volunteering is “a civic duty.”
“I feel volunteering is important,” said Machens, 72, of Murrysville. “I do it because these people don't really have any options, and they need help.”
He's helped Angela Moreci, 86, of Penn Township to get to her appointments.
Moreci doesn't drive, so she relied on Road to Recovery to deliver her to radiation treatments in Forbes Regional Hospital. Moreci went into remission after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, but the cancer has now returned.
“They have been so good to me, really,” she said. “They're desperate for volunteers.”
Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- North Huntingdon man accused of road rage altercation in Westmoreland
- Reputed major heroin trafficker in Westmoreland County pleads guilty, gets prison sentence
- Zoning update raises fears in Ligonier Township
- Event gets new formal name: Shop ’n Save Westmoreland County Airshow, presented by Xcoal Energy & Resources in Latrobe
- Auction nets $20,000 from ill-gotten gain in slaying, theft from Washington County woman
- Fast-growing Americans for Prosperity opens location in Greensburg
- Court in the Classroom program provides insight for Norwin High School students
- Police claim woman stabbed husband at their Jeannette business
- Excela center proposal worries residents of Hempfield neighborhood
- Deputy sheriff seeks top spot in Greensburg office
- Updated Everson directory available at post office