Making life easier, one drive at a time

Hans Brygger is a volunteer driver with the Beacon Community Services program that gets Peninsula residents to critical medical appointments.   - Christine van Reeuwyk/News staff
Hans Brygger is a volunteer driver with the Beacon Community Services program that gets Peninsula residents to critical medical appointments.
— image credit: Christine van Reeuwyk/News staff

Hans Brygger has his wife and the News Review to thank for his 15 years of driving people around Greater Victoria.

“I thought, ‘We’ve got to do something to keep active’ and we saw the ad in your paper looking for drivers,” Patricia explained.

Now she and Hans both drive for the Beacon Community Services program that gets people to medical appointments around the region.

“These volunteers enable people to live more independent lives and offer this service with respect and compassion,” said Kathryn Mason, co-ordinator for BCS volunteer service. “Lots of people tell me they don’t know how else they would get to a doctor’s appointment. I suspect some of them wouldn’t go.”

The 63 volunteer drivers at Beacon Community Services are the Hearts of the Community Award winner for community service or project by a group.

“The program serves the needs of Peninsula residents. It’s not based on any financial means; it’s based on the clients’ need to get from A to B,” Mason said. “It serves the needs of people to get to their medical appointments when all other options fail. The drivers go right to the door, pick you up. … It’s a more personal service certainly than a cab.”

With personal interaction with the person they’re helping, drivers get to see first-hand the effects of their work.

“We’re called angels sometimes,” Patricia Brygger said. “People are so appreciative.”

For Hans it keeps him busy and out and about.

“It’s interesting to meet a lot of different people,” Hans said. “You get some interesting stories.”

“It keeps my brain active and I like driving,” added Patricia, who usually does one drive a week. She often works dispatch, setting up appointments and drivers in what she calls a “critical service.”

The program has been around for more than 30 years. Gerd Berger’s been at it for nine.

“It makes me feel I’m doing something worthwhile,” he said. “It keeps the old noggin active. … It’s good for me – it keeps me busy doing something that is appreciated and worthwhile.”

After a lifetime volunteering as a firefighter it wasn’t a leap for him to search out volunteer opportunities after moving to Sidney nearly a decade ago.

With his wife’s move to long-term care, he finds the drives uplifting for both driver and client.

“It takes the worry away from people. They get to where they need to go and then taken home again,” he said. “We always converse because usually they’re lonely and as of a year and a half ago, I’m lonely too.”

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