The ride for life

By 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