Cloverdale’s Envision Financial branch, a division of First West Credit Union, awarded the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society a $20,000 grant on Monday, July 29. From left: Brady Jepsen, George McAffer, Michael Voros, Betty Boudreau, George Garrett, Bob Smith, Ken D’Sena, and Christina Pocock.(Samantha Anderson)

Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society awarded $20K grant by Cloverdale bank

It’s the largest single-year grant the society has received since it began in 2016

The Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society was awarded a $20,000 grant on Monday (July 29), the largest single-year grant it has received since it was founded in 2016.

The society’s force of volunteers provide free transportation to cancer patients throughout the Lower Mainland, ensuring that people have a safe ride to and from medical appointments.

Since VCDS began in February 2016, more than 200 volunteer drivers and dispatchers have given of 70,000 hours of their time to the program. According to the organization, drivers have made about 46,000 trips, driving 1,373,000 km — that’s nearly 250 times the length of Canada.

Cloverdale’s Envision Financial branch, a division of First West Credit Union, awarded the funds through its charitable arm, the First West Foundation.

“The Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society provides so much more than just transportation to cancer patients in need. Volunteers offer a safe ride, friendship, support, compassion and understanding,” said Susan Byrom, senior manager for community investment at First West Credit Union.

For cancer patients like Betty Boudreau, the service means everything.

Since she was diagnosed a little over a year ago, Boudreau has had 17 different volunteers drive her to multiple appointments.

“I can’t say enough good things about them,” she said. “They’re always courteous. They’ll drive as close up to the door for you as they can. A lot of them carry water in the car.”

The most important part is that “they get it when you don’t want to talk. And they get it when you need to talk,” she said.

VCDS president Bob Smith was one of the volunteers that drove Boudreau to appointments. When they saw each other on Monday, it had been some time. “When I first drove you, you were pretty sick. It’s so nice to see you. I’m just delighted,” he said.

Boudreau, who is in complete response and off chemotherapy, said that it was “nice not to have to call you for a ride.”

Smith laughed.

VCDS was chosen as a grant recipient because, in the years that Envision Financial and First West has supported them, “we’ve come to realize that it’s not just a ride, it’s so much more. It’s giving [patients] company. It’s that caring. It’s really a peace of mind for the patients and their families,” said First West Credit Union community investment coordinator Christina Pocock.

“The piece that jumped out at us is how many of the volunteers give back as well,” she said. “They’re not only giving their time, they’re the largest donor group that [VCDS] has.”

That’s true, said Smith. Volunteers are reimbursed 48 cents a kilometre, but many donate the money back to the society. Those cents add up — this year, VCDS will take in about $60,000 from its own volunteers.

“We just started three years ago with nothing,” remembered VCDS vice-president George McAffer. “We just had a few drivers, no money. Just 40 dollars. And here we are now.”

“We just keep getting more and more drivers, and more and more patients,” he said, explaining that this growth was a good thing, as it indicates more patients are aware of the service that is available to them.

The $20,000 grant from Envision Financial and First West Foundation will “help meet the needs of cancer patients” throughout the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley,” said Smith. “We are truly grateful for such generous support.”

VCDS operates in Langley, Abbotsford, Surrey, White Rock, Maple Ridge, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Port Moody, the North Shore, Delta, and part of New Westminster. For more information on the society, visit volunteercancerdrivers.ca.



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Son of slain former Hells Angel is one of two men sentenced for crime spree

Pair’s 2017 series of Lower Mainland robberies stretched from Surrey to Mission

‘Person of interest’ identified after suspicious meat left in North Delta park

Piles of meat have been dumped near the 63rd Avenue trail entrance four times in the last 30 days

Surrey-raised Merkules raps his way around the world

Cole Stevenson opens up about his ‘Scars,’ a hit remix of ‘Old Town Road’ and how he’s pals with Shaq

Fundraiser launched for South Surrey stabbing victim’s funeral

Paul Prestbakmo remembered for ‘amazing smile, great soul’

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

Mouse infestation hit Langley hospital’s kitchens

Droppings and urine were found by Fraser Health inspectors in the spring

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

B.C. mom mourns 14-year-old son whose fatal overdose was posted online

Chantell Griffiths misses the son she hadn’t seen much in recent years

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Most Read