Hollywood resident spends spare time providing rides for cancer patients

Eveliz & Sandra
2011-11-26 07-42-11.293 Hollywood resident spends spare time providing rides for cancer patients

Darlene Pistocchi

Community Correspondent at Hollywood Gazette

Darlene is a professional writer, voice-over and performing arts specialist
2011-11-26 07-42-11.293 Hollywood resident spends spare time providing rides for cancer patients

The American Cancer Society Road to Recovery program provides free rides to cancer patients who have no means of transportation or who are too ill to drive themselves to and from their cancer-related medical appointments.

“Rides offered through this program are provided by the generosity of volunteer drivers who donate their time and the use of their personal vehicle,” states Eveliz Metellus, program manager and mission delivery for American Cancer Society. “Volunteers like Sandra Tavlin.”

Tavlin, a Hollywood resident since 1973, was made aware of the program after reading about it in a local paper.

“Transportation by other means was either unreliable, expensive or just plain unavailable,” shares Tavlin. “I knew how true this was because of my years working with clients in social services. Transportation was always one of the biggest problems we had to face.’

Tavlin, who is now retired, loves Hollywood and all that it embraces. “It is basically a small town with a big city feel-being so close to all the amenities of Miami-Dade, as well as Fort Lauderdale and growing Broward County. We really have it all-theater, the arts, beaches, and the big city traffic. Thus, my involvement in this program helps me utilize my new-found time driving around town while doing something really worthwhile.”

“I honestly don’t think there is anyone who can say they don’t have a personal connection or experience with cancer. You either may have close family and friends who have been diagnosed, or you know someone who has loved ones who have been diagnosed,” states Metellus. “I have family members who are cancer survivors that could have benefited from this program.”

Even the best treatment can’t work if a patient can’t get there. Family and friends may have the best intentions but over the course of several months, time and/or financial means can make it impossible to provide every ride. A successful transportation assistance program is a tremendous, potentially life-saving asset to the community.

About the program

Road to Recovery is a national program, so there are volunteer drivers in every community across the United States.  However, according to Metellus, the network of Hollywood drivers is very small.

“We receive a large number of ride requests from cancer patients who get treatment through the Memorial Healthcare System- either Regional on Johnson Street, or West out in Pembroke Pines,” shares Metellus. “Giving a patient a ride can be as simple as dropping someone off on the way to or from work, during your lunch break, and sticking close to ride requests in the neighborhood.”

Tavlin says her experiences, so far, have been extremely gratifying.

“Helping patients receive their needed treatment also helps them relieve their anxiety and reduce their stress, which we all know is so important to getting well. Hopefully, others will choose to donate spare time to this very needed job.”

Metellus, whose tasks include working throughout the area to share information about the program, recruit and train new volunteers, and support current volunteers says your volunteering hours are set by YOU.

She explains. “What I mean is, once you begin with the program, you set your availability based on three criteria: weekdays willing to drive (usually Monday – Friday), time available on those days, and how far you are willing to drive. Once you are matched to a patient’s request for a ride, you choose to accept if you’re available on that specific date, at that specific time, and if it’s within a distance you can drive.”

You can also choose to take a patient round-trip or one way.  Again, it depends on your schedule.

How to get involved

If you would like more information about the Road to Recovery program, visit their website at American Cancer Society. You may also call 1.800.227.2345 and a staff person will be happy to answer your questions and help you start the process.

While the program receives requests from patients who go to other hospitals throughout Broward and Dade counties, Metellus says “we welcome your willingness to volunteer your time and drive as far as you can go!”

About Darlene Pistocchi

Community Correspondent at Hollywood Gazette Darlene is a professional writer, voice-over and performing arts specialist