Island Rides, Volunteer
Can you share a little bit about yourself?
I’m originally from Chattanooga, TN, and I worked at my family’s steel business after college. After volunteering for a local environmental group for a few years, I decided to change careers and work in environmental advocacy. Over the next 13 years, I worked for the state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) as an organizer and lobbyist in Boston, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Seattle where I was the Executive Director of WashPIRG until 2005.
After that, I got an Executive Master of Public Administration at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at UW, but instead of continuing to work in the nonprofit field, I started a website for Seattle area dog owners called Seattle DogSpot.
While I was in Seattle, my wife and I had a house on Orcas Island and planned to live here after we retired. After she passed away from cancer in 2019, I decided to follow our dream of living here, and I moved to Orcas permanently in the fall of 2020.
Tell us a little bit about the organization you volunteer at.
I volunteer at Island Rides Orcas, which provides free rides to islanders who don’t have cars or are unable to drive. It also provides delivery service from local businesses and the Orcas Island Food Bank. We primarily serve seniors and people with disabilities, but anyone can use the service.
Island Rides began on San Juan Island in 2012 and expanded to Lopez in the fall of 2020. It began serving Orcas residents a year and a half ago. We use two Nissan Leaf SV Plus electric cars to provide rides to islanders.
Many of us who are fortunate enough to own a car here don’t give a second thought to making a trip to the pharmacy to get a prescription. For someone without a car on an island with no public transportation, getting to the pharmacy can be a logistical nightmare. Now these islanders can schedule a ride with a quick phone call.
Since it started service last summer, Island Rides Orcas has provided thousands of rides for islanders who can’t drive.
What does volunteering do for you?
Underfunded and overworked government agencies cannot provide support for all the rapidly increasing number of people that need it. Nonprofits and charitable organizations help fill these gaps by providing critical resources to people who would otherwise get left behind.
Volunteering gives me the opportunity help people in the community access these resources. It also allows me to learn more about the needs of our small community and what I can do to support the people that need it.
Visit Island Rides to learn more. Reach out to them if you would like to get involved.
If you would like to learn about other volunteer opportunities on Orcas, please email Ed. He would love to get together for tea/coffee to chat about your interests.