Jim McKee retired early so he could take his wife Evelyn to her dialysis treatments, where he noticed other patients waiting up to an hour for their ride to come take them home.

He tucked that observation in the back of his mind for later. After Evelyn passed, he saw an announcement asking for drivers in the Waunakee area and remembered those dialysis patients. He took action and signed up as a volunteer driving people 60 yrs. and older to appointments through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) at Waunakee Senior Center.

Since he began in June 2012, he has dedicated more than 1,275 hours to driving passengers to medical and other important appointments. And he performs this act of volunteerism with such joy.

“I love it,” McKee said. “I meet different people and a lot of interesting people every day. And I’ve grown close to several of them some even ask for me by name. ”

One passenger who McKee has become close to is Ron Aussprung. The pair play euchre together every Tuesday at Waunakee Senior Center and McKee is one of Aussprung’s regular drivers.

About a year-and-a-half ago, Aussprung moved to Waunakee from the Sussex area. Because he’s without a car, his son introduced him to the Driver Escort program at the senior center and now, Aussprung is a regular passenger of the service.

“The drivers are all sociable, very nice, and know where they’re going,” Aussprung said “plus they pick you up where you live!”

The Driver Escort ride service is a partnership between Waunakee Senior Center and RSVP and provides donation-only rides to seniors 60 years and older, primarily to medical appointments. This service helps seniors without transportation to get to important appointments that help them maintain their health, and therefore their independence, as well as helping them to stretch their dollars a little farther every month.

The Driver Escort program in Waunakee needs drivers, if you are interested, contact the RSVP Driver Services Co-Manager at (608) 441-7896 or mschmelzer@rsvpdane.org.

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