by Jacquie Willis
Doris Deml, a resident of St. Cloud, Minn., is an active Retired and Senior Volunteer Program volunteer. Deml retired in 2011 after working 9.5 years as an assisted living administrator. Looking for a meaningful way to get involved, Deml enrolled with RSVP and volunteers for Tri-Cap as a transportation driver. The Tri Cap Volunteer Transportation Driver program aims to serve the general public, providing services for medical appointments and a variety of other service destinations in rural Stearns, Benton and Sherburne counties.
Throughout her working career, Deml has always worked with people and commented, “When I first retired my dog didn’t talk to me.” As a result, Deml turned to volunteering as a way to connect with others and supply the social interaction she desired. She says, “I see this as a way to make a difference in peoples’ lives.” Since Deml began driving for Tri-Cap she has volunteered 728 hours. The people she serves may have no other way of getting to their appointments. It’s really important to them and satisfying for Deml. She told a story of an elderly woman who she drives that resides in the country and says, “She just tells me over and over again how important this [transportation] is for her.”
Deml said she feels human interactions and relationships have been a rewarding aspect of volunteering. She says, “I transported a little boy every Friday for about 14 weeks. Somebody told him he wasn’t smart enough for the first grade and I said, I think you’re really smart. If you weren’t smart, how can you tell me at 6 years old, how many stops signs we had to stop at?” Throughout their trips together, Deml would point out his knowledge. She said, “It was nice to see him laugh and gain self-confidence.” She even made a special exception for him. Typically, she doesn’t let people eat in her car, but one day she offered him a bag of chips. He said, “Oh are these [chips] for me? I won’t leave any mess back here,” Deml happily explained there was never a problem back there.
Deml said she never imagined the deep connections she would foster through volunteering and the impact it would have on the community. The Greater St. Cloud Area RSVP is proud to support Deml and the 31 other RSVP volunteers who drove 16,811 hours for Tri-Cap in 2014.
If you are 55+ and interested in learning more about becoming a RSVP volunteer, contact the RSVP office at 320-255-7295 or firstname.lastname@example.org.