Free Wheelin’ volunteer Pat Folsom at the wheel.

Pat Folsom of Waitsfield has been a volunteer driver with Free Wheelin’, the Mad River Valley’s free ride service, for about two years. She heard about the program through The Valley Reporter and the Mad River Valley Senior Center, where she was having a meal when she was talking with Free Wheelin’ co-founder Johnnye Eure, who encouraged her to get involved. “I decided this would be a good thing for me to try,” Folsom said.





“I volunteer because I know there are people that do not have transportation or cannot drive because of illness or age in The Valley and life is very difficult with no vehicle. I want to do what I can to help and feel that volunteering is a good way to help alleviate this need. I chose this because I can be flexible with the days and times I drive, and my schedule changes every week.”  

She said volunteer drivers get an email with a list of people needing rides, the time and place, any special needs the client might have, and the length of time the client will be at their appointment. Volunteers can sign up online, get a reminder the day before the ride, and drivers call the clients to remind them of their appointment, which Folsom said is important for people who have memory issues.  

“It is very well organized and the drivers are kept up to date by Valerie (McCord). It's not easy to keep the schedule with all the different needs of clients and drivers,” Folsom said. 

“I think most of us are shocked by how helpful this service is to our community. Many of the clients are elderly or have special physical challenges. There is no other transportation service in The Valley that offers needed rides to people in and out of the Mad River Valley. From taking seniors to the Tuesday lunch at the Senior Center, grocery shopping and stops at the bank, to medical appointments in the Berlin, Burlington, and even the Dartmouth area, this flexible transportation service is a tremendous help to many people who need it. It is great for the clients and the drivers, a positive experience for everyone. 

“I really like meeting different people, learning a bit about their lives (if they wish to share), and helping them in some small way. Most people are very thankful to be able to get to appointments via this Free Wheelin’ service. Thanks to Johnnye Eure, Michael Bransfield, Valerie McCord and all the others involved in this great community project.”

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