Volunteer Mobilizes Family and Friends to Provide Weekend Transportation for HEARTH Families

Jerry Flint didn’t have to go far to find his volunteer opportunity.

No stranger to helping others, Jerry had been very active in food and clothing drives when he was a member of the Key Club in high school. As an adult he wanted to resume volunteering but hadn’t found the right opportunity. That is until HEARTH moved to its new location right across the street from him on Mt. Royal Blvd. in Shaler Township.

“I went online to learn about HEARTH and its mission, and I liked what I read,” he recalls. “I wanted to help. And I also wanted to show HEARTH residents that there were people who welcomed them to the neighborhood.”

After speaking with the volunteer coordinator at HEARTH, Jerry learned that HEARTH residents needed transportation on Saturdays from the HEARTH property to McIntyre Square to shop or to get to their jobs because the bus line doesn’t run on Mt. Royal Blvd. on weekends.

Jerry quickly mobilized, enlisting his father, Chuck Flint, and friend Maggie Yaw to help him provide rides at 8:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

Jerry explains the logistics: “HEARTH residents sign up for their preferred times for Saturday rides by Thursday. On Thursday afternoon the HEARTH coordinator calls to tell me how many women have signed up and for what times. I then coordinate the shifts and send out an email to my fellow volunteers to confirm our times.” All told, he says that his volunteering takes just a few hours during the week and on the weekend, which doesn’t interfere with Jerry’s Monday-Friday job as a permanency specialist at a local social services agency. “It’s not difficult to fit the volunteering into my schedule. My weekend schedule is flexible, and I just make it work,” he says.

Those few hours make a big difference for the women and children who Jerry and his fellow volunteers transport. “They are so appreciative,” he says. “I’ve had many interesting conversations with the HEARTH residents, learning more about their lives and how they came to HEARTH.”

“The willingness and effort Jerry has demonstrated are extremely important for our families who don’t have vehicles,” says Vicky Gill, Communications & Community Outreach Manager at HEARTH. “It allows them to get shopping done on the weekends that they might otherwise not have the chance to do.”

Jerry downplays his role and is quick to recognize his father and friend Maggie for their volunteer efforts. “I couldn’t do it without them,” he says. “My father is always ready to help out, often on very short notice. There have been weekends when Maggie has happily driven all three time slots.”

Putting social media to good use, Jerry recently posted an item on Facebook asking for additional volunteers to help out on Saturdays, and he has a few more prospective volunteers lined up as a result.

“I’ve always felt that it’s important to help other people. It just feels good,” Jerry says. “If anyone is contemplating volunteering but is hesitating, I say ‘just do it.’ I like to think that what I do makes a difference.”

No doubt the families at HEARTH would agree.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at HEARTH, contact Vicky Gill at vlgill@hearth-bp.org.