Volunteer chronicles: Sightseeing in Burnsville and sneaking cheeseburgers

Our volunteers go above and beyond to provide a sense of companionship to our clients, and volunteer Doug Johnson is a prime example of that. As a personal driver volunteer, he forms deeper bonds with clients as he drives them to appointments or on errand runs. Plus, he has fun doing it – especially when it ends in a secret cheeseburger run!



Why do you volunteer for Help at Your Door?

My plan of retiring and doing nothing lasted for about one week. After 43 years of professional work, I realized I needed to be making some kind of contribution in order to be happy. In looking for volunteer opportunities online, I found HAYD. I like driving clients to their various engagements, getting a chance to visit with them, and having the flexibility and support of the office staff. I have an 87-year-old mother down in Iowa who I can’t help on a daily basis (not that she would accept the help anyway) so in a sense, I do this volunteering to honor her as well.


What is your favorite memory volunteering with Help at Your Door?

I get such a kick out of some of the comments and requests made by clients. One was in awe of a route that I took that she thought was a pretty as a national park (McAndrews Road in Burnsville!). Another asked that I swing through the McDonald’s drive through for an illicit cheeseburger. And yet another warned me quite strongly not to watch over her shoulder and judge as she grocery shopped. One client quite frankly stated that she didn’t remember me, but she remembered my car. You never know what people will say.


What’s one thing you’ve learned from a client?

What I’ve learned from all the clients is that providing rides is only part of this work – it is also providing companionship and conversation. People who live alone, myself included, need to have positive interactions with others on a regular basis. I think HAYD recognizes that part of its mission is not just to help people live independently, but to do so happily.



Interested in joining Doug and our 500 other volunteers? Visit the Volunteer page to learn about different ways to get involved and how to sign up.