ISCU's Transportation Services
by David Dorman, ISCU Transportation Team Leader
One of ISCU's major service areas is transportation, because mobility is often a significant challenge for our immigrant clients. It is hard enough to get around if you are a poor American, but that difficulty is compounded for our clients, most of whom cannot communicate or read in English, and do not have any familiarity with the US transportation infrastructure.
To meet our clients' transportation needs, ISCU makes use of volunteer drivers who have a helpful spirit and who have a car, as well as the time to do occasional volunteer driving. These volunteers are the heart of our transportation program. Most of the transportation needs are for local appointments, primarily medical, but they can be as varied as a DMV appointment or a local court date. We have also helped our clients get to Peoria, St. Louis and Chicago for medical appointments.
But we quite frequently find that our clients have a need to travel to Chicago, Michigan City or Indianapolis for USCIS*-related appointments, such as interviews, court dates, and ankle-monitoring device checks or removal. Finding volunteers for these fairly frequent long-distance appointments can be challenging, because they typically take the better part of an entire day. Recently we have started offering our volunteers a stipend in addition to gas, food and parking reimbursement, when we cannot find anyone willing or able to devote a day to travel without some compensation.
Quite often the volunteer drivers form a bond with the people they are driving, and often volunteer multiple times when the person they've driven before needs another ride. I truly believe the volunteers get as much benefit from being a volunteer driver as our clients get from having their transportation needs met.
When circumstances allow it, we encourage our clients to take the bus, and we offer them help in learning how to use the MTA. However, there are a number of clinic locations which are not served by our bus system, and quite often other constraints make taking the bus unrealistic.
If you would like to be on the list of potential volunteer drivers who are sent a request for a ride when the need arises, send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There's no obligation to respond to any particular request, but I think you will find it a rewarding experience if you do.
*United States Citizen and Immigration Services, a federal agency within the Department of Homeland Security.