- Associated Press - Saturday, January 7, 2017

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - For some residents of the Key Peninsula, Jarvis Krumbein might be the only person they have contact with.

He’s one of 17 volunteer drivers on the Key Peninsula helping seniors and disabled people to live in their own homes by driving them to doctor appointments and other places they need to go.

“The whole idea is to make the Key Peninsula more elder-friendly and help people age in place,” Krumbein said.

Krumbein volunteers for The Mustard Seed Project, a nonprofit that provides rides, helpers, and other services to seniors and disabled people, reported The News Tribune (https://bit.ly/2iQp1wp).

Funded by grants and donations and partnering with Pierce Transit and Catholic Community Services, the 10-year-old group has 145 clients catching rides from the volunteers.

“What drives me to do this is that someday I might need this service myself,” Krumbein said.

At 85, Krumbein is older than many of the people he drives.

On a mid-December day, Krumbein drove Clarence Jones, 77, from the Herron Island ferry landing to a doctor appointment in Bremerton.

This is the sixth time Krumbein has driven Jones. A typical drive for Krumbein is 70 miles and four hours.

Because of vision problems, Jones, a former member of the Royal Air Force, can’t drive. Usually his wife is available to drive him to appointments.

“Whenever she is not - like in this particular situation - Mustard Seed comes through,” Jones said.

Jones quit driving about two years ago. That’s when he began using the service.

“This is a prime reason Mustard Seed exists,” Jones said, “for people unable to drive or they’re getting too elderly to drive.”

Using a van equipped for the disabled as well as their own cars, drivers from their 20s to 80s take those in need to medical appointments, grocery shopping, senior social gatherings, banks and post offices.

The volunteer drivers are reimbursed for mileage.

“Some of them will drive five days a week if I need them to, some every other week and everything in between,” said Maureen Reilly, transportation coordinator for Mustard Seed.

She’s one of seven paid part-time and full-time staffers.

Mustard Seed was founded by Edie Morgan, who serves as the group’s executive director. The organization grew out of a need for transportation on the Key Peninsula, where Pierce Transit does not operate bus service.

Today, the need is even greater, Reilly said.

“We see an increasing call for all the transport services we provide,” she said.

Some clients just need someone to chat with. Others require light housekeeping, yard work or small home repairs. Mustard Seed often works with churches for larger projects such as painting, porch repairs and gutter cleaning.

Reilly’s drivers put a total of 32,548 miles on their odometers in 2015.

Krumbein is a good driver and a patient man, Jones said.

“The last thing you want to do if you’re elderly is to hang on to the dashboard because someone is driving crazy,” Jones said.

Sometimes they ride in silence.

“At our age you don’t have much to talk about,” Jones said. “We’re certainly not politically motivated.”

Some clients are more talkative, though.

“I’m a good listener,” Krumbein said. “Sometimes I hear far more than I want to.”

Krumbein reads while he’s waiting for passengers. He goes through three or four books a week.

“It keeps the mind working,” he said.

In addition to the hours he donates to a good cause, the driving gives Krumbein something to do.

“I’d worry about how I’d fill my time if I wasn’t doing something like this,” he said.

___

Information from: Kitsap Sun, https://www.kitsapsun.com/

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