Archive for May, 2019


Posted on May 21 2019 | By

In the beginning wine. Now tales on whatever drives the imagination. Visit our site map for over 400 chronicles.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

The ride for life

Posted on May 21 2019 | By

VolTran making medical appointments an on-time experience

Making a doctor or dentist appointment can be a bothersome task. Yes, we know we need to go but it often conflicts with other demands on our schedule.

But consider an elderly or disabled person struggling to make such an appointment then trying to figure out how they are actually going to get there. It can be stressful.

But it’s not only medical practitioners who provide the gift of life, there is a cadre of community volunteers who are rendering emotional and physical support to those in need.

And what’s in their “medical bag”? Smiles and wheels.

Listen to how one of the volunteers describes her duties: “I am very passionate about VolTran. I have met the most wonderful people from all walks of life. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. I will continue to drive until I no longer can.”

This volunteer, by the way, is also the President of the Board of Directors for VolTran. From the president’s seat to the driver’s seat she’s got it covered.

Meet Linda Stouffer. Stouffer retired from the Department of Defense in 2007 where her specialties included Human Resources, Training & Development, and Recruiting.

Today her professional skills have been “employed” to not only head the nonprofit organization but also meet the frontline needs of the elderly and disabled as they seek to get from their homes to appointments and errands.

All without compensation.

Behind the scene
Recognizing the importance of social interaction VolTran provides not only rides to medical appointments but also to grocery stores, pharmacies, hair salons and more.

The most valued possession we have is time. It is also our most valued gift.

By now you’ve guessed the organization’s name springs from the words Volunteer Transportation.

As committed as Stouffer is, she couldn’t accomplish much if the organization she leads wasn’t run with Swiss watch efficiency. Twenty-six volunteers, all driving their own vehicles and paying for their gas, are the pulse of the service.

Its mission is to provide transportation for the elderly, disabled, and others in need for medical appointments and important errands. Its service turf includes Fauquier, Rappahannock, and northern Culpeper County.

Service hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and closed on holidays. To be eligible for the service residents must be:

  • 60 years or older
  • Legally blind of any age
  • Wheelchair bound of any age
  • Disabled of any age
  • Others in serious need of its services

VolTran asks for at least two days’ notice when seeking a ride and five days’ notice for the use of a handicap van.

Since its creation in 2007 the service has steadily grown and today is posting some impressive numbers.

In 2018, 828 ride requests were fulfilled through 2,220 volunteer hours contributing 35,000 driver miles.

“We can’t always respond to a request. One time we received 11 ride requests in one day,” said Stouffer. “Some of our drivers are more active than others and it can be difficult at times find a driver for each and every request,” explains Stouffer.

But a resident who plans ahead will improve their odds of receiving a stress-free ride to their appointment.

Rides are scheduled through a call center called FAMS, or Foothills Area Mobility System. Operators there will assess the specific needs of the resident and coordinate with VolTran to meet the day and time of the requested pickup. 

Residents call (540) 422-8424 and leave a detailed message with their name and telephone number.

When a volunteer driver accepts the assignment, he or she will call the passenger directly to arrange the trip. The FAMS coordinator also calls the client back to inform them a ride has been arranged for them or not.

Every nonprofit’s struggle is to secure monies to keep its endeavor going. VolTran has been fortunate in securing individual contributions and foundation grants, including grants of $50,000, $30,000 and $5,100.

Additionally, because of a recent grant from the PATH Foundation, they were able to lease a Chevy Equinox for three years, providing additional comfort for residents scheduled for appointments.

The PATH Foundation is a grantmaking organization that enhances health and vitality of Fauquier, Rappahannock and northern Culpeper county.

Nonetheless, every dollar donated to the organization is valued and citizens throughout the Piedmont are encouraged to make VolTran a favored charity. The donations make a difference between surviving and thriving.

Donations from local citizens help to support a part-time program coordinator, advertise its services, recruit volunteers and offer gas cards as incentives to volunteer drivers.

VolTran is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are tax deductible.

But money alone does not make VolTran’s clock tick. Volunteer drivers are always needed to help offer the service to an ever-growing population of elderly and disabled Piedmont residents.

To become a driver, interested individuals complete a Volunteer Driver Interest Form, must be 21 years of age or older, have proof of car insurance, have a valid driver’s license and inspection sticker, and agree to a motor vehicle record check.

“We are always looking for new drivers and its exciting when someone joins our team. I like hearing the stories of the people we serve,” and think anyone joining would experience the same satisfaction.

As the former Secretary of Agriculture under President Eisenhower, Ezra Taft Benson once said, “If you really want to receive joy and happiness, then serve others with all your heart. Lift their burden and your own burden will be lighter.”

For the full story on VolTran, including securing a much-needed ride or volunteering to help keep the wheels turning visit


Published in the May 1, 2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.


Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Leaving the car at home

Posted on May 21 2019 | By

Warrenton Circuit Rider increases popularity with additional bus

From the earliest days of the United States, members of the clergy roamed the sparsely settled frontier bringing the word of God to the colonials. They were called circuit riders.

The preachers’ role faded as the Nation grew but the name stuck in our lexicon. Today thousands of area residents hop aboard a bus with the same name that circulates around Warrenton providing access to shopping, medical appointments, dining and more.

Similar to yesteryear, Warrenton’s Circuit Rider is making believers out of its audience. Especially anyone who needs to get from point A to B without car keys.

Launched in 1998 the service is a collaborative effort between Virginia Regional Transit, the town of Warrenton and Fauquier Family Resource Network. Phil Thompson, director of operations for VRT, oversees the service in concert with other local organizations.

“I’m very pleased to be part of a community-minded transportation system like Circuit Rider,” said Thompson.

Virginia Regional Transit is headquartered in Purcellville and is a not-for-profit organization providing affordable transportation solutions for a host of Old Dominion communities.

“A locality invests 32 percent of what it costs to operate a route and we pull-down grant funding from through the commonwealth from the Federal Transit Administration,” he said.

Thompson has held his position since 2012 and after a brief break returned again in 2017. Prior to that, he worked in the fuel and gas industry. His position takes him all over Virginia overseeing VRT’s portfolio.

Service Expansion
Monday through Friday the Circuit Rider motors around Warrenton from 7:30 in the morning to 8 o’clock at night providing transportation to a wide range of users. Saturday service runs from 9:30 10:30 p.m.

Grocery shoppers looking to score dinner, handicap individuals headed to a doctor’s appointment and green-minded drivers giving the family auto a day off all are among the residents climbing aboard the bus.

Since September 2018, there is a second reason to grab a ride. An additional 19 passenger bus was added to the Warrenton circuit eight months ago, reducing the drive time for each run from over an hour to 45 minutes while expanding the number of stops from 20 to 24.

“Over the years it became more difficult to maintain the loop schedule and stay on time. And it was routinely overcrowded,” said Thompson.

The solution again came in a united effort. This time involving VRT, the town of Warrenton and the Fauquier Mobility Council. Funding was provided in part from a grant from the local PATH Foundation.

“The joint effort assisted in funding the expansion through the introduction of a second bus; we now have two loops that connect at a central point near the post office.”

The result has been a leap from 2,220 riders a month to some 3,200. “It’s pretty impressive what the collaboration achieved.” It’s anticipated almost 40,000 riders will ride the sleek looking buses this year because of the expanded service.

And where does the bus go? Almost everywhere in town that a public or commercial entity operates.

The two routes are dubbed Maroon and the Black. The first starts at the post office and winds its way through the northern part of town to the medical buildings on Blackwell Road and then on to Giant, Safeway, nearby apartment complexes, Rite-Aid, the bowling alley, Subway, Food Lion and the Warrenton middle school.

The Black Route heads south from 3rd and Main Street to Leeds Square, the community center, Fauquier Hospital, Walmart and the Lord Fairfax Community College.

Locations for pickups are listed on the service’s website but Thompson underscores, “You don’t necessarily need to be at a specific stop to catch a ride. As long as we can safely pull over and safely pick you up, we will do so with our ‘flag down service’.”

What do the users of the Virginia Regional Transport think if its rides? Its Facebook page tells it all:

“I love this service because it’s convenient and affordable for people on tight budgets!!”

“My brother used VRT for years and was more than pleased with their operation. Dependable and trustworthy!

“I would like to say just how impressed I am by the leadership of this company. They are working to fix the issues and I can say I truly felt heard. Thank you all for your help and genuine concern.”

“Awesome! Convenient! On time! Thank you!!”

And what’s the price for all this attentive service? Fifty cents a ride. A charge that hasn’t changed in 21 years. These folks don’t believe in inflation.

In summing up his experience in serving our county seat Thompson said, “Warrenton is a wonderful community for us to be part of. We are blessed to be there.”

For a full description of the Circuit Rider routes, location of stops and pickup times take a courtesy ride at


Published in the May 1, 2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Categories : HAGARTY TALES