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'More than just a ride': Volunteer driving charity seeks Newmarket help

Routes Connecting Communities hosting info session on April 27 to recruit drivers to meet increasing requests from Newmarket residents
Sally Schoentaube has driven for Routes Connecting Communites for years and said is worthwhile.

Sally Schoentaube did not want to sit around in her elder years.

The 82-year-old has spent more than 18 years driving Sutton residents wherever they need to go in York Region and beyond as part of the volunteer driving charity Routes Connecting Communities. 

As she prepares to depart her role, she said it created many connections for her.

“I have a social conscience,” she said. “It’s such a necessary service … It’s really a wonderful thing to be able to do. To have such wonderful journeys with people and to try to cheer them up.” 

The charity is looking for more volunteer drivers to help the cause. It will be hosting an informational webinar April 27 for interested participants.

The service provides transportation for its clients with mobility challenges to things like medical appointments, social activities and everyday life. They also offer social transportation and social calls to those experiencing isolation.

“It’s more than just a ride,” executive director Nivedita Balachandran said. 

The Sutton-based organization offers rides throughout the region and is specifically hoping to find more Newmarket drivers, with more requests coming from Newmarket residents, Balachandran said. 

“We have 40 client drivers,” she said. “Forty is not a lot for the whole region. There’s always more demand than there is supply of driving. What we’ve noticed most recently, because the demand is so high, we’ve had to turn away rides and we just hate doing that.” 

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor will be part of the webinar and is helping promote it.

"Routes Connecting Communities is a local organization that provides safe, affordable, compassionate, and timely transportation for those in need,” Taylor said.

Schoentaube said she feels sad to be departing her role as a volunteer. She said it is something she carried on throughout the pandemic, despite some risks. 

“We lost, overnight, a substantial number of our drivers and my family insisted that I be one of them. And I said no, I’m not going to stop. It’s more important than ever,” she said.

It is something that any socially conscious person can get something out of, she added.

“I just love people and I love driving,” she said. “If you got a social conscience, this is the very best thing you can do.”

The Zoom webinar is April 27 at 6:30 p.m. The Zoom link and passcode is available through an event posted on Facebook