Transportation. For most of us, getting where we need to go is a simple matter of walking out the door and starting up our cars.
For newly arrived refugees, there’s nothing simple about it. They don’t have cars. They don’t have driver’s licenses. They don’t know the city. They don’t know the bus system. They can’t afford an Uber. And, often, they don’t know English well enough to ask directions.
And, yet, when they arrive in the United States, they have a host of appointments and places they need to be – multiple doctors’ appointments, appointments with case workers at World Relief, appointments at DSHS, English classes, school appointments, job interviews. Not all at once, of course, but still, it can be a daunting task to get to all the places they need to be, especially for large families.
Cue hero entrance music!
Meet a few of our transportation volunteers.
Jan Probus, John Yoder, Lucy Larkin and Sherilyn Jones recently met for lunch at the Spokane office. Since they each operate independently of one another – driving clients to various appointments – they wanted to meet and socialize, and Robby Cannon, World Relief Initial Health Care Coordinator, helped make it happen. The volunteers brought a variety of ethnic food choices and sat around a table getting to know each other and sharing stories.
Here’s some of what we heard about why they do what they do:
Sherilyn said, “I enjoy hearing people’s stories. Many of them have touched me to the core. I just spent three hours with a family and thoroughly enjoyed getting to hear their story of being separated and then reunited with their 12-year-old daughter.”
Jan said, “I love having my car full of children. Sometimes these families will have five kids. I don’t have grandchildren, so I love being around these kids. Taking them to Target is a riot.”
John said he knows what it’s like to be in a country where you don’t know anyone. “I enjoy the feeling of satisfaction I get from helping people – just to be able to do something simple like get to a medical appointment. I sometimes wonder, How would they have managed without World Relief? But then, I watch them, and I think, They’re going to make it.”
Lucy agreed that it feels good to be useful. “I signed up to help with World Relief to be with people who were not like me. I love the people. They’ve been through a lot and have a hill in front of them.”
Sherilyn circled back to the fun of it all. “I love the international feel. It’s like traveling without leaving Spokane.”
If you’d like to volunteer and make a practical difference in the life of a new arrival, learn more on our website.