This week human services agencies across the country celebrated National Volunteer Appreciation Week, a special opportunity to recognize the remarkable people in our community that go that extra mile to serve those in need.
This year was an especially challenging year for volunteer driving programs. Many people decided to sit things out until a vaccine was available. However, non-driving seniors still needed help getting to the doctor and to access food. We are proud of all our partners and their volunteers who stepped up to make sure folks had food, medication or just a friendly voice to hear over the phone. We want to recognize these folks, not only during one week in April, but throughout the year with a periodic Volunteer Spotlight.
To kick this new tradition off, we would like to give a shout out to about Travis White, who is both the volunteer Executive Director and volunteer driver extraordinaire for Shepherd’s Center of Western Fairfax County. Over the last year, Travis was invaluable as the organization’s Executive Director in keeping the operations running, as well as stepping up himself to get people where they needed to go. He often picked up rides himself there was no other volunteer available.
Throughout this unprecedented crisis, Travis has worked tirelessly to meet the needs of his clients, altering practices such as contactless food deliveries, to help keep his drivers and clients as safe as possible. The number of seniors served last year jumped from 67 in 2019 to 106 in 2020.
Travis came to the organization as a volunteer driver in 2015, and when the then executive director had to relocate in 2017, Travis stepped up to the plate and has not looked back. Since then, he has committed himself to serving seniors in his community by driving them to medical appointments and the food pantry. In 2020 alone he made 216 one-way drives and logged 2,633 miles. During those drives he helped spread cheer with conversation and kindness. Over the course of his time at the organization he has logged 1039 one-way rides, 1,220 hours and 14,908 miles. While the numbers are impressive, they do not represent the countless hours helping to keep the organization moving, by monitoring the database and outreach to fellow drivers as well as recruiting new ones.
Jennifer Kanarek, manager of NV Rides, noted that in 2018, when Shepherd’s Center of Western Fairfax County’s founding director relocated from Northern Virginia to care for his own aging parents, Travis was understandably reluctant to add another commitment to his already busy volunteer schedule.
“We are so fortunate that Travis stepped up to the plate and has become one of the most outstanding leaders in the NV Rides network,” Kanarek said. “He is dedicated to the mission of the Shepherd’s Center to serve our community’s most vulnerable seniors, enabling them to remain independent and age with dignity. His inspiration to serve truly comes from those he helps.”