The Bella Vista Courtesy Van is in need of volunteers of all types -- drivers, schedulers and board members.
Phyllis Rice, a board member and driver coordinator with the nonprofit organization, said it takes a lot of volunteers to keep the vans on the road.
The organization has operated in Bella Vista for more than 30 years providing free transportation to residents who cannot drive for one reason or another. The courtesy van provides transportation to places like doctor appointments, rehab, hair salon appointments and personal trips such as grocery shopping.
"It takes two drivers each weekday to drive," Rice said. "When they sign up to volunteer they are asked to serve two weekdays during the month. When you serve a day as a driver you have to devote pretty much the whole day (from morning to 5 p.m.). To fill up our calendar every month we need quite a few drivers."
Rice said she has driven for the organization for five years.
"I have found it to be really rewarding," she said. "You meet really nice people, and they are so grateful to have this service. As someone who was relatively new to this area when I started driving, it's a great way to learn about Bella Vista. You go into areas of Bella Vista you never knew existed. You get really familiar with the area. The clients are so nice. You see a lot of these folks on a repeat basis. They've led such interesting lives. Just about everybody who lives in Bella Vista comes from somewhere else."
Schedulers work from home confirming and scheduling rides. They need a computer and internet connection. Schedulers work two to three shifts a month with each shift being one to two hours in the afternoon and then one to two hours starting at 7 a.m. the next morning.
"It takes a lot of volunteers to make this work smoothly," Rice said.
For insurance purposes, drivers have to be taken off the list at age 77, she said. A number have come off the list recently.
"We've had a number who have driven for 10 years. That gives you an idea of how satisfying it is for people who drive," she said.
The vans are wheelchair accessible and drivers will go as far north as the Jane Walmart, as far south as exit 81 off Interstate 49 (Pleasant Grove), as far east as Dixieland Road and as far west as Centerton's Main Street. There are two exclusion zones: Pinnacle Hills Mall and Village on the Creeks. The vans do not run if Bentonville Schools are closed due to inclement weather.
"Most driver volunteers are concerned about liability, but the vans are all insured," Rice said.
To volunteer, contact board president Bill Puskas at 402-981-1571 or [email protected]
"It's a wonderful service, and it takes people willing to volunteer to keep it going," Rice said.