Deryck Forrest describes himself as a Maritimer who likes to talk and loves to drive, which makes him the perfect fit for what he does.
The 80-year-old is a volunteer with Hope’s Care Transit, providing a valuable service to people who can’t get themselves to important appointments. Forrest is on the road three to five times a week, helping clients get where they need to go.
“Most are seniors heading to medical appointments, like doctors or dentists,” said Forrest, who’s been driving for eight years.
Care Transit helps clients in a large territory ranging from Hope to Boston Bar, and the organization hopes to extend out to Sunshine Valley in the near future.
Forrest has driven as far as UBC Hospital in Vancouver.
“One time, a lady required an MRI test, and she couldn’t get anything locally for a month and a half,” he said. “So I drove her out to Burnaby Hospital at 3 in the morning. We go to Vancouver General. St. Paul’s. Anywhere there are doctors and hospitals.
“I’ve been retired for a number of years now so time doesn’t matter too much to me. If I have to go at 5 in the morning I’ll go.”
Forrest will often make extra stops for a client who struggles with mobility and can’t get to the store very often. He’ll bring that person to Save-on-Foods and even accompany into the store to help carry out groceries.
That part of the job is at the driver’s discretion, but Forrest is usually happy to tack on an extra stop or two, adding that Hope has the second-highest ratio of retired people in B.C. next to White Rock.
“There’s a lot of people who’ve had to give up their driver’s license, or they can’t afford to have a car anymore,” he said. “There’s a lot of need for what we do and I thrive on it.”
Forrest is not kidding when he says he loves driving, probably more than most people. He’s done five cross-country trips across Canada. He’s been known to leave Hope at 5 in the morning and put in 13 hours behind the wheel on a trip to California.
“And then another 12 hours the next day to get to Arizona,” he said. “I don’t know what will become of me when I have to give up my driver’s licence, but hopefully it’s a long time away yet.”
Long drives give Forrest a chance to talk, and listen, and form lasting relationships.
He’s on the road three to five times a week and said he has several people who request him as a driver, because of the friendships that develop.
“I’ve driven for one particular lady for almost five years now and she always says I’m her favourite driver,” he said with a smile. “I love everybody in the world and I’ve always wanted to help people. If you’re a good person I’ll give you the moon if I can.
“I’ve met so many incredibly nice people, and appreciative people who appreciate the help you’re giving them.”
Care Transit was created in 2006 and was the brainchild of the Hope and Area Community Connections Committee (HHCC). It is governed by a volunteer board and currently there is a roster of 16 volunteer drivers.
The service is by donation and relies on donations from the community.
For more info on how to become a driver or access the service, visit caretransit.ca