Through its Road to Recovery program, the American Cancer Society (ACS) is looking for volunteers to drive patients to their treatments.

According to the ACS, an estimated 2,000 Santa Barbara County residents will learn they have cancer this year and getting to their scheduled treatment will be their greatest concern. To help patients get to the critical care they need without additional stress, the Road To Recovery program can help provide free transportation to and from treatment for people who have cancer and who do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves.

“One cancer patient requiring radiation therapy could need between 20 to 30 trips to treatment over the course of six weeks,” said Donna Gavello, program manager, Mission Delivery for the American Cancer Society. “A patient receiving chemotherapy may need weekly treatment for up to a year.”

Many cancer patients don’t own a vehicle, can’t afford the extra gasoline or don’t have access to public transportation. Some patients may be elderly and unable to drive, too ill to drive or have no family members or friends who are able to provide regular assistance with transportation.

“Volunteering doesn’t have to take over your life to be a valuable experience,” Gavello said. “Just three or four hours per week can be highly beneficial to both you and your chosen cause. The important thing is to volunteer only the amount of time that feels comfortable to you.”

The Road To Recovery program provides transportation options for patients in dire situations and currently is in need of volunteer drivers, especially those who are willing to drive patients to treatment in Santa Maria, Lompoc and Santa Barbara. Volunteer drivers donate their time and the use of their cars so patients can receive the lifesaving treatments they need.

To volunteer, you must have a valid driver’s license, a safe and reliable vehicle and proof of automobile insurance. Drivers must be 18 years of age or older and have a good driving history. They arrange their own schedules and can commit as many or as few hours as their schedule allows. The American Cancer Society provides free training to drivers and conducts criminal background and driving record checks.

“The most valuable skills you can bring to any volunteer effort are compassion, an open mind, a willingness to do whatever is needed and a positive attitude," Gavello said. "Volunteering is a great way to meet new people. It also strengthens your ties to the community, exposes you to people with common interests, and provides a sense of purpose." 

For more information and to volunteer, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org/volunteer.

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