Harry Kroeker has been a volunteer driver since he retired in 2018. (VCDS photo/Special to the Langley Advance)

VIDEO: Volunteer cancer drivers back behind the wheel as of June 22

The group provides patients with rides to doctors appointments and cancer treatments

The Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society is back on the road, soon.

The non-profit that offers rides to cancer patients throughout the Lower Mainland had to stop in mid-March due to the coronavirus.

Now that more is know about the virus, transmission and safety protocols, the society is resuming service starting June 22. People can start booking rides starting June 15.

Before the service shutdown, the volunteer organization started in early 2016 was on track to provide more rides than ever.

“We were projecting to do 27,00o rides in 2020,” said George Garrett, one of the founders.

Now it looks like the society will still be doing 20,000 rides this calendar year.

• Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society of BC

Before the shutdown, there were about 200 volunteer drivers. There are now 150 who have said they are ready to get back to driving cancer patients.

“The drivers are excited about getting back. And the dispatchers, too,” Garrett said.

Langley’s Harry Kroeker set his sights on the drivers society as he approached retirement, knowing he didn’t want to sit around. He lost two siblings to cancer and wanted to help others faced with this disease.

It was just a bonus that the job involved driving, something he enjoyed since he was a young man and worked as a bus driver before going into the greenhouse business.

“I loved interacting with people,” he said.

It’s the same reason why he loves being a volunteer driver but this time, the people in the other seats are burdened with a lot more on their minds. So he works hard at making the journey pleasant for them and tries to chat with them to take their minds off the disease.

“It’s a scary time for people,” Kroeker said.

He’s suggested to others that they should volunteer but received a rather deflating reply – they won’t do something unless it pays. As a child of Russian immigrants who came to Canada in the 1920s, he feels blessed and is happy to give back in any way he can to Canada.

As for being a volunteer, he’s paid with two little words from the cancer patients – thank you.

“You can’t ask for greater reward,” Kroeker said.

So when the service has to shut down, his thoughts turned to the clients.

“How are these poeple going to get there?” Kroeker wondered.

During the pandemic the cancer centres provided clients with taxi vouchers, but Garrett noted that the service just isn’t the same. The cancer drivers will not only take the patient to doctor and treatment appointments but will wait for them and drive them back home.

Kroeker said he made at least 15 trips into Vancouver for one man last year and during one month, drove about 2,000 kilometres.

He’s so ready to get back to driving patients.

“I just spent probably the last hour vacuuming my truck, cleaning the windows,” he chuckled when interviewed on Monday morning, two weeks before the service resumes. “I’m excited to get back to doing it.”

[Story continues below video]

COVID-19 precautions will be in place for drivers and clients including:

– Clients must sit in the back seat, no longer in the front passenger seat.

– Drivers and clients must wear masks.

– Drivers supplied with protective equipment including sanitizer and wipes.

The society, a registered charity that can issue tax receipts, could use some help covering the cost of protective supplies. Donate through the website.

___________________

Got a news tip to share?

Email: heather.colpitts@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

Cancer

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATE: Teen missing since early Monday in Langley has been found

Police released information about a 14-year-old girl who has been found safe

Canada West Golf Championships cancelled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

UBC, UBC-O, UFV and UVic athletes will not hit the links this year, Kelowna was set to host

SHARE: Feathered friend a reliable weather forecaster

Send us your photo showing how you view Langley, and it could be featured in a future edition

Trans-Canada twinning project between 216th and 264th Streets on schedule for 2021

Commuter said more work needs to be focused on 264th Street exit in Aldergrove

CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Sept. 20

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Dozens of Canadian venues to light up red in support of entertainment workers

Local facilities among dozens across Canada to participate in Light Up Live

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Public health officials urge Canadians to limit contacts again as COVID-19 cases rise

Canada has committed $1 billion to buy at least 154 million doses of vaccines from five different companies

Vancouver Island family overwhelmed with 14 Lab puppies

Litter may be one of the biggest ever

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Most Read