Fayston resident Billi Schloss takes her poodle Lila with her on all her assignments driving for Free Wheelin’.
Those who don’t know Schloss and Lila from Free Wheelin’ might know them from the Joslin Memorial Library where they volunteer on Saturdays.
Schloss got involved with The Valley’s free ride service about three years ago and she really enjoys it, she said. When interviewed she had just returned from dropping someone back at their home near the bottom of the Roxbury Gap in Warren. She took that person to a local appointment and went to grocery store while she was waiting.
“You meet all kinds of different people. This person was a very chatty lady and showed me pictures of her grandchildren,” Schloss said.
“I got involved because they needed drivers and it’s a great thing to do. Free Wheelin’ helps so many people every month and the people we’re driving are so grateful and appreciative that we have this service,” Schloss said.
Schloss calls her passengers a day ahead of their appointments to make sure it’s okay that Lila comes along. Most enjoy meeting Lila (who is hypoallergenic) and the dog is a real icebreaker. Lila has been known to climb into the front seat and enjoy the laps of passengers as well!
“It cheers people up to have Lila around,” Schloss said.
Schloss has been living in The Valley full time for five years. Prior to that she and her late husband had been second-home owners for decades, commuting from New Jersey.
“The longer you stay here, the more involved you get and it’s harder and harder to leave,” she said, adding that she loves being here full time.
Schloss is a retired systems analyst/computer programmer, and a native of Brazil who spoke mostly German at home to her parents and Portuguese outside the home. She’s been in the United States for some 50-plus years.
She suggests that those considering volunteering for Free Wheelin’ have a good car if they’re not going to use the two cars that Free Wheelin’ has. She also suggests that people either scout out local roads ahead of appointments, or make sure they have updated information on road conditions.