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Returning Home to Care for Her Community

What would you do after working for 40 years in the hospitality industry, followed by helping to care for a parent with Alzheimer’s? For Zackie Fox, the answer was to volunteer to provide more help to others. Not long after moving to Grants Pass to help her mother, she joined us as a volunteer care attendant, and offered training to others supporting loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

When she felt she needed a “rest” from this work, Zackie volunteered to be a driver for our non-emergency medical transportation program. Our volunteer drivers make sure that qualifying individuals in need of transportation get to medical and dental appointments, even to pharmacies and other health-related locations. We cover mileage costs, but volunteers otherwise donate their time and energy.

In 2018, we hired Zackie to work as a dispatcher for the program. As a dispatcher, Zackie ensured drivers completed their routes, even when emergencies like severe weather potentially interfered with service. She excelled at this work, but she didn’t know that a health emergency would soon change UCAN and her work.

That emergency was COVID. During some of the worst days of the pandemic, her supervisor passed away from the virus. We turned to Zackie and asked if she was willing to try managing the program. Despite having no experience overseeing a transportation program, Zackie agreed. She knew the service provided a critical link connecting low-income residents to their desperately needed medical care, and she was going to do everything in her power to keep that service operating.

As she says, “the first six months were really tough.” Not only did she have to learn on the fly, she had to do so as COVID both reduced the number of volunteer drivers and changed how we provided the service. But she persevered to keep the program going.

Having made it through those first difficult months, Zackie is now rebuilding the number of available drivers. In doing so, she has ensured that residents from Coos, Josephine and Douglas County lacking reliable transportation can still make it to healthcare appointments. Asked how she’s feeling having taken on a huge task, she responds: “I’m just peachy.”

You too can feel peachy by joining our team of volunteer drivers! Contact us at volunteer@ucancap.org and include Medicaid Transportation in the subject line.

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