Pam and Ian Dill are part of a largely anonymous band of volunteers who gladly transport eligible clients to medical appointments across Toowoomba every weekday.
The Dills and fellow Toowoomba Community Care Transport Inc (TCCT) volunteers have travelled thousands of kilometres to ferry people to and from appointments in the 23 years since the service was started by the Rotary Club of Toowoomba.
The organisation has been chosen as the charity beneficiary for this year’s Mayoral Prayer Breakfast to be held on Tuesday, May 15 from 6am at Rumours.
Mr Dill started driving in 2003, with his wife joining the driving ranks around eight years ago.
“It is a rewarding experience to help people who otherwise would struggle to afford to travel to and from appointments,” Mrs Dill said.
“Drivers regularly wait for clients at their appointments, which eases the stress of waiting for transport to return home, particularly after a round of treatment.
“We build a unique friendship with regular clients and often act as a sounding board.
“I thoroughly enjoy helping people and appreciate receiving the feedback of our grateful clients. That is reward enough for helping people.”
TCCT president Tony Mullen said the service was devised as part of the Rotary Club of Toowoomba’s community service program in 1995.
“A team of volunteer drivers transports approved clients to medical appointments at Toowoomba hospitals and a range of medical and allied health practitioners across Toowoomba city on weekdays,” Mr Mullen said.
“Our drivers complete up to 6000 single trips each year.
“The original intent to provide a service offering affordable transport option to community members who require medical treatment but are not eligible to be transported by the Queensland Ambulance Service remains a primary objective.
“We regard the volunteers as inconspicuous good samaritans.
“Many people might not be able to call on family members and friends or live alone and might be unable to drive.
“Using public transport is not a viable option if people are unwell or have limited mobility (clients in wheelchairs and stretcher cases can not be transported).
“The service is not designed to replace the use of taxis, but this too might not be a viable option for people, many of whom are on social security benefits.
“Our clients are generally people who can not drive themselves, have no ready access to private transport or can not afford taxis, especially if they are undergoing extensive treatment that requires regular visits to medical appointments.
“The caring aspect is an important part of the service as often clients need extra assistance to travel to their treatment or help getting in and out of a vehicle.
“This extra level of personal attention is greatly appreciated by many clients. Some have written to express their gratitude, thanking our volunteers for their courtesy, friendliness and extra help during their daily trips.
“TCCT has been mindful to keep the service fee as low as possible to help ease the financial burden when clients are undergoing treatment.
“The service relies on private and community support to remain viable.”
Mr Mullen said the service was a stand-alone organisation run by the Toowoomba Community Care Transport committee.
Daily operations are run by a paid part-time coordinator who receives transport bookings and allocates clients to volunteer drivers.
“Without government funding, the service has relied on the Rotary Club of Toowoomba, Toowoomba Lions Club, Wippell’s Autos, South Toowoomba Apex club, private donations and past support from The Chronicle Home Exhibition Garden at Carnival time and Heritage Bank’s golf day.
“The Exhibition Garden program will not be supporting the service this year, so the funding windfall from the Mayoral Prayer Breakfast is a timely injection that is much appreciated.
“This greatly relieves the funding pressure for the coming year. The service operates on an annual budget of around $60,000. The demand for this type of service is increasing as the population ages and we are keen to maintain a high level of service.”
Enquiries about joining the driving ranks or checking eligibility for the service can be directed to 4646 3270.
Residents are invited to join the community breakfast at Rumours International, 323 Ruthven Street, Toowoomba from 6am on Tuesday, May 15.
Prices are $24 for adult tickets and $12 for school-age children.
Tickets can be purchased at Council’s Little Street Customer Service Centre in Toowoomba from 8.30am to 5pm on weekdays.
Tickets also can be bought by calling 131 872 or via Council’s website by visiting www.tr.qld.gov.au/breakfast
All credit cards, except Diners Club and American Express, can be used. Visa and MasterCard payments will attract a 0.33% surcharge.
Caption: Toowoomba Community Care Transport Inc volunteer drivers Pam (left) and Ian Dill (right) with TCCT president Tony Mullen and client Jocelyn Say.