The Red Cross comes to my aid every week. What? Am I in danger of bleeding to death? Is my house flooded every week? Do I need shelter and clothing after a disaster? No, I just need a ride.
Did you know that the Red Cross offers transportation services?
In a previous post, I talked about using the para-transit system in my town, which is the main way I get around. However, once a week, I get a ride with the Red Cross. It’s a free service, and I’m allowed to use it once a week, but just for doctors appointments, physical therapy, and the like. In other words, I couldn’t ask them to take me to the mall although I do consider that a kind of therapy. I go swimming twice a week, and it’s wonderful to know that I don’t have to make arrangements for one of the rides to the aquatic center. They’ve set it up so each week at a certain time, they pick me up, and at another time, they bring me home. Their drivers are polite and friendly, and most of them are volunteers. The nicest part is that they are almost always on time, and I don’t have to share a ride with anyone. I go from point A to point B in a car, not a huge noisy van, just like a regular human being. You dont have to be in a certain income level, show proof of need, or pay them buckets of money. They do like it when I hand them a donation once a month though, but it’s not a requirement. I’ve signed my mother up for it, so we’re all set if she ever needs to go see a doctor or have tests done somewhere outside the assisted living home. The one catch, (Isn’t there always a catch?) is that you do need to make your reservation way in advance. They also won’t take you to an 8:00 a.m. appointment, because that’s asking volunteers to get started too early in the morning. Still, it was a happy discovery for me, and it has been a blessing for two years.
We did have a serious altercation when I first tried to use this service. The driver was very nice, showed up on time, but refused to let my guide dog in the car. Even after explaining to him that she is allowed to go anywhere the public is, he was afraid of breaking rules. He called his supervisor, who said that my dog could not ride, because other passengers might be allergic to dogs. He said he could take me, but not my dog. I was incredulous, to say nothing of furious. Of course, I said, then I’m not going either, and immediately got on the phone. I contacted the Seeing Eye, and the director of community relations called the supervisor. She told him that one disability cannot trump the rights of another. She sent him documentation to support this statement, and in the end, I received a genuine apology from the top guy at my local Red Cross chapter. I never would have expected this ignorance from an international organization. After we cleared that up, our relationship improved significantly, even to the point where I am encouraging anyone with transportation issues to take advantage of this wonderful service.
I hope they never run out of funding for this service. Maybe the people who have donated 350 million dollars to the presidential campaigns could send their next 350 million dollars to some non profit organizations such as the American Red Cross, the American Council of the Blind, The Foundation Fighting Blindness, or a hundred other entities that don’t waste their money on negative slurs about the other guy, but thats a subject for a whole other post.