When the staff were thinking about who might be this year's Volunteer of the Year, Jim Grover was the first person who came to mind for all of us. Because it's not just about taking rides, it's about going above and beyond. Jim has been driving for Island Connections since 2003. Our ride scheduling software only goes back to 2012 and since then he has taken 888 rides and driven almost 13,400 miles. In 2022, he has already driven 136 rides for 32 Neighbors totaling over 1,500 miles. 50 of these rides were in our wheelchair accessible van. Jim also takes food from the Bar Harbor Food Pantry to Trenton every other week in our multi-passenger van. He is someone we can rely on short notice, like when we need to pick someone up in the wheelchair van who is being discharged from the hospital tomorrow. In addition to taking rides, Jim also tends to both vans, letting us know when something sounds off that might need to be looked at. He also washes them and shovels them out in the winter. We were particularly grateful for him earlier this year when we had a neighbor who needed the wheelchair van to go to dialysis three times a week. He took so many of those rides and the family spoke so highly of him during that time. We love when he comes into the office to chat and we try to keep a supply of chocolate on hand for him. Jim is greatly respected and appreciated!
It goes without saying that Island Connections volunteers are literally the heart and soul of the organization. Without them the organizations cannot exist. For over 22 years, our volunteers have provided well over 100,000 rides, driven more than 1,000,000 miles and giving of the time in the amount of more than 50,000 hours. This is no small feat and believe me so appreciated by our staff, board members, the neighbors and their family members who are able to take comfort that their loved one is getting to their needed appointments. Time and again, volunteers have answered the call to fill needed rides to any number of destinations for our neighbors. Many of them agree to make a stop or 2 if they have the time to allow the neighbor to pick up some groceries, cash a check at their bank or drop off a package at the post office out of shear added kindness.
Island Connections has been honoring one volunteer every year by presenting them with the David P. Evans Volunteer of the Year Award to the individual that exemplifies the commitment they put forth for our neighbor's transportation needs. This individual joined the Island Connections family of volunteers in January 2017. In her second year as a driver, this amazing volunteer provided 252 1-way rides, equating to 9,497 miles and 280.75 hours of her time. So far this year, she has provided 117 rides for 3,905 miles equating to 117.5 hours of her time. To put this into perspective, I have put just over 11,000 miles on my vehicle in nearly a year for regular use getting to work, a few fun trips and some volunteer driving for Island Connections. She has driven many different neighbors to a variety of medical appointments, trips to the grocery store and Walmart as well as to the bank. She's done many on island trips as well as to Ellsworth, Blue Hill and Brewer/Bangor. I have to laugh because there is a note on her volunteer record in our RideScheduler system that states "would like to start with just a couple of rides per week". Well that has certainly happened. There have been times when this volunteer has done 2 or 3 drives in one day. She also drives neighbors with mobility issues in our wheelchair accessible van. This award is well deserved. Deb, we and our neighbors can never thank you enough!
On May 14, 2018 at the 2018 Spring Popover Event at the Jordan Pond House, Island Connections announced Mary Smith as the recipient of the David P. Evans Memorial Award to the outstanding Island Connections Volunteer of the Year. Mary joins a wonderful group of volunteers who have been added to the list and been honored as our "best of the best"! Island Connections volunteers and most notably our volunteer drivers, embody the essence of Island Connections' service to our neighbors. They are the ones making the true "connections" that our neighbors appreciate for their transportation needs to important medical appointments and procedures, to market for groceries, or just out on personal business. Our volunteers also nurture the relationships that demonstrate the kind of care and compassion that make this island a better place to live. Every single drive by our volunteers-often or occasionally, around town or across MDI or as far as Bangor, many or a few-makes the contribution to helping seniors and people with disabilities live independently in their homes. Mary is proof that you can make a great difference in your own community by driving your neighbors to their needed appointments with a smile, friendly conversation and by having a real commitment to the overall mission of Island Connections.
Pictured: Doreen Willett and Mary Smith
The 2017 Spring Popover Event at Jordan Pond House on May 15th was the time that we announced David Parker as the recipient of the David P. Evans Memorial Award to the outstanding Island Connections volunteer. David is in good company and added to the list of many volunteers who we honor as our "best of the best"! Island Connections volunteers and most notably our volunteer drivers, embody the essence of Island Connections. They are the ones making the true "connections" that our neighbors appreciate for their transportation needs to important medical appointments and procedures, to market for groceries, or just out on personal business. The also nurture the relationships that demonstrate the kind of care and compassion that make this Island a better place to live! Every single drive by our volunteers-often or occasionally, around town or across MDI, many or a few-makes its contribution to helping seniors and people with disabilities live independently in their homes. David has made a real commitment to our neighbors and the overall mission of Island Connections. Here is a look at David's commitment in the last year: