Benefits of volunteering

Published 10:29 am Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Today’s busy lifestyles can make it hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering are enormous to you, your family and your community. The right match can help you make an impact in the community, learn new skills and even advance your career. As an American Cancer Society volunteer, you also can honor a survivor or a loved one lost to cancer while joining the fight to end the disease.

The American Cancer Society’s Road To Recovery program offers flexible scheduling and a chance to give back while literally helping to save lives.

Far too many 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 American Cancer Society 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.

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One cancer patient requiring radiation therapy could need between 20 to 30 trips to treatment over the course of six weeks. 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. In fact, 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. Volunteering should be a fun and rewarding experience, not another chore on your to-do list.

The Road To Recovery program provides transportation options for patients in dire situations and currently is in need of volunteer drivers. Volunteer drivers donate their time and the use of their cars so patients can receive the lifesaving treatments they need. Drivers also provide encouragement and support.

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.

Volunteer coordinators also are needed to schedule the requested rides. Coordinators can work from any location that is convenient for them. Great organization and communication skills can make a major impact on the well-being of cancer patients in the community.

While learning new skills may be sought by many, it’s not a requirement for a fulfilling volunteer experience. 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. 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.

To learn more about the benefits of volunteering and how to become a Road To Recovery volunteer, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit


LaChona Ferguson is the community manager for Relay for Life, East Central Division of the American Cancer Society. She can be reached at 740-708-5186.