Published on November 12, 2021

Volunteer driver program shares year in review

As part of a year-in-review summary for UNC Health Southeastern’s Compassion for U, U Care Connectors Program Grant, the health system premiered a full-length video for stakeholders on Friday, Nov. 12, detailing the program structure, including patient and volunteer testimonials.

The U Care Connectors is a program that “connects” volunteer drivers with patients who need transportation to medical appointments. It is funded through grants from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust as well as the North Carolina Health Care Foundation.

In the video, Patient Janice Cargo shared her love for the program and that, without transportation provided by it, her health would be negatively impacted.

“These people put the ‘C’ in compassion,” said Cargo. “The kicker is they don’t like--they love what they do…They are the sweetest people to me; they are family…When I am transported by them, it is a good day.”

Faye Collins is a volunteer “Connector” who found the program as an outlet for mission work after she retired.

“I thought, what can I do to help somebody else, because that is where I get my ‘love economy’ is giving to others,” said Collins. “We are not just giving, we are receiving.”

The program is administered by UNC Health Southeastern’s Pastoral Care Services department, led by Chaplain Rev. Dean Carter and supported by Nicole Sanderson. Together, they coordinated transportation for close to 1,500 patients by 14 active volunteers during the reporting period of July 1, 2020, though June 30, 2021.

“I am extremely proud of the team who has spearheaded this program, as well as our volunteer Connectors,” said Chris Ellington, President and CEO of UNC Health Southeastern. “They have the best interests of the patients at heart, while realizing our organizational vision of advancing the health of our communities through partnerships, learning, and providing high quality and compassionate care.”

The theme throughout the video presentation, addressed by representatives from Kate B. Reynolds and the NC Health Care Foundation, was how the transportation barrier in rural communities often prevents those who are most vulnerable to miss much-needed health care treatments and appointments.

UNC Health Southeastern’s program, which initially began as a mini-grant in 2016, has grown and is thriving, and has been used as a model for other programs throughout the state as others are addressing the transportation barrier in their rural communities.

The full-length video is available for viewing at:

Anyone who would like more information about how to volunteer for the program may contact Chaplain Carter at (910) 671-5031.

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