Driving is a privilege that most people take for granted, but sometimes that privilege is unexpectedly unavailable. In these cases, the smallest actions can be enormous symbols of love.
At Love INC, one of the ministry areas that the call center helps to organize is the Medical Transportation Ministry. This ministry is specifically dedicated to organizing rides for individuals who cannot drive themselves to their doctors’ appointments and do not have family or friends available in the area who can help them. According to Joan Vander Lugt, a ride coordinator for the Transportation Ministry, “Volunteers are the people when there is no one else; they show God’s love through a simple, everyday task.” It can seem very overwhelming to try organizing a ride to a doctor’s appointment, but Love INC helps to remove the stress and worry by organizing rides for people in our community.
Joan said that when she started working in the Transportation Ministry she focused more on how her work was influencing others and less on building relationships. However, she learned quickly that, “It’s not about fixing problems, it’s coming alongside to be a helping hand, a place to belong and a person to talk with.” It was an important learning curve for Joan that volunteers do not fix problems, God does. Joan has often seen that there are clients in the ministry who have experienced a lack of support due to their age or circumstances and she feels called to help serve regardless.
The Transportation Ministry survives because God uses people to meet needs and fill requests. There have even been stories over the course of the transportation ministry where God has provided drivers to unite a couple living in separate assisted living facilities. Without those willing servants, stories like this one would not be possible. The transportation ministry thrives through those who are willing to meet a need and be present for clients once or twice a week for a couple of hours. As the ministry has changed through the years, so has the need for new drivers. The Transportation Ministry often schedules several weeks in advance because there are more people requesting rides than there are people available to drive to appointments. Love INC is looking for younger drivers who would be able to volunteer a couple of hours a week to serve others and build lasting friendships
Through the Transportation Ministry, God helps develop profound relationships between neighbors and volunteers. According to Joan, the ministry works reciprocally, and the people receiving rides fill a gap in the lives of drivers, too. Drivers are present in the midst of a turbulent and distressing time of life. For those who walk together in the ‘valley of the shadow,’ a bond forms that goes far beyond simply driving to a doctor’s appointment.
“Love INC is a ministry for all: we become a family.” –Joan Vander Lugt