Where the Rubber Meets the Road
An important Life Lesson to learn is that we are all connected and that we are all here to help one another. This lesson is repeated across cultures, across continents, and across the centuries. Four hundred years ago, English poet John Donne wrote “No man is an island, entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” In Africa, that idea was captured in the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Much more recently, the Bill Withers’ song said it this way: “Lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend. I’ll help you carry on. For it won’t be long ‘til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.”
AIDS Delaware has a program that literally puts wheels on this Life Lesson and takes it out on the road. For several years now, AIDS Delaware has operated a transportation program for persons living with HIV disease in Sussex County. This program uses volunteer drivers to take eligible clients to essential medical appointments, to help them successfully manage their HIV infection. “We are very fortunate to have excellent HIV care practices in Delaware,” says AIDS Delaware Executive Director John Gardner. “The HIV Wellness Clinics run by Christiana Care have been recognized nationally for the excellent quality of their services. But what good is great medical care if patients cannot get to it? That is where our program makes such an incredible difference”.
The program is a simple one. Persons living with HIV/AIDS but do not have access to a car are referred to the program by a case manager or social worker. As those clients are scheduled to see their doctors or have lab work done, they call in a request for transportation to an AIDS Delaware staff member. Most of the requests are to destinations right here in Sussex County. AIDS Delaware assigns a volunteer driver to the request, based on where the client lives, where the client needs to go, and which volunteer drivers are available. “That last part is the most important one,” explains Transportation Coordinator Judy Carey. “The more volunteer drivers we have, the better we can respond to client requests. Right now we have a small number of drivers available. They are doing a great job, but it would be better for everyone—clients and drivers alike— if we have more volunteer drivers ready to help.”
Volunteer drivers are reimbursed mileage for the trips that they make with AIDS Delaware clients, and every attempt is made to give plenty of advance notice for the trips to be made. “Many of the transportation requests are for morning appointments,” adds Carey. “Even if a volunteer driver is available only one morning or one day a week, we could sure use their help!”
To find out more information about becoming a volunteer driver for AIDS Delaware, people are encouraged to email Francesco Agresta or call him at (302) 236-9884. AIDS Delaware is the State of Delaware’s first and largest AIDS Service Organization (ASO). The agency was founded in 1984 by a group of concerned volunteer activists addressing the needs of the emerging AIDS community in the state. Over the last 29 years, AIDS Delaware has become a professional not-for-profit agency working for the health of the human family. It is headquartered in Wilmington, with satellite offices in Rehoboth Beach and Seaford. Besides its transportation program, AIDS Delaware provides medical case management statewide for persons living with HIV disease, confidential HIV testing, education and outreach to the HIV+ community and to the general public. To find out more about AIDS Delaware and its mission, visit their webpage.