Community corner: Volunteer-powered transport

Dave Carvell, a volunteer driver.

By Drew Johnson

While I was writing the last edition of this column – an overview of changes to our food pantry – I realized that most people reading this probably don’t know about the other programs we have here at South County Community Services (SCCS). Since trying to get the word out about our services has been in our strategic plan for the past two years, I thought now would be a good time to write about them! I don’t have space to tell you about everything we do, but I will try to cover the main programs and how they work over the next few months. This month I’ll be covering transportation.

Our transportation program provides rides to doctors’ appointments and meetings with human service agencies to seniors and people with disabilities free of charge. The transportation program at SCCS is funded by the senior millage and is a very in-demand and necessary service — many of the people we give rides to have no other affordable option to get to their appointments, and the van is often booked solid.

Tamra Stafford is our transportation coordinator — she sets up rides for clients, schedules drivers, and makes sure that we are compliant with Metro documentation among many other things! When someone calls her, she needs to know their name, address, appointment time, and appointment location. If they are a new client, she will ask them to fill out an intake sheet to make sure we have all relevant medical information. Then she’ll look for a volunteer driver and make all the necessary arrangements.

Because we are giving rides to seniors and people with disabilities, we provide a little more TLC than a taxi might: One thing that our riders appreciate, for example, is that we generally wait for the rider to be done with their appointment — we do not leave and come back to pick up the person later. That makes many people feel more secure, since they are often going to an appointment alone and with no way of getting home on their own. But what riders most appreciate is our amazing drivers! We have a group of volunteer drivers who are always ready to help and who enjoy talking to riders as much as riders appreciate their help and company. We couldn’t do it without them!

A few other things to note:

We do not provide medical transportation or transport people who are not medically stable at the time of transport.

We are always looking for more volunteer drivers! Driving for us is very flexible. After the initial training, you’ll be emailed with a schedule every week and will be able to sign up for rides that Tamra has scheduled with clients. Many drivers try to pick riders who they know and enjoy talking to — I always like getting to know riders too, which is easy in our new, quiet van!

It is a good idea to schedule ahead of time—especially if you are a new client. We book up fast because the service is in such high demand!

Drew Johnson lives in Kalamazoo and is the Director at South County Community Services. He has a small quarter-acre homestead with chickens, bees, and hops (and more!), a wonderful wife, and three energetic children. He can be reached at 649-2901 or

For more information on South County Community Services, please check out our Facebook page at or visit

Dave and Cande Vermeulen celebrate 50 years

Dave and Cande (Veit) Vermeulen were married August 11, 1972 in the little chapel at the First United Methodist Church in Kalamazoo. They built their family home in Vicksburg in August of 1976 and have lived here since. Dave retired from Root Spring Scraper, where he was chief engineer, designing and building large snow removal equipment for over 20 years. Cande retired from Brady Township where she was clerk for over 20 years, along with Medical Data Processing where she did part-time accounting. They have two children: Kim and Jeff Vanderbilt, currently of New Zealand, and Kelly Vermeulen and Jen Saidla of Lawton. Their grandchildren are Max and Kat Vanderbilt, Hazen and Ava Vermeulen, and their plus 2, Lauryn and Aiden Saidla of Grandville. They plan to celebrate the weekend of their anniversary out of town with the entire family.

Lions’ Summer Festival — the B&B — returns

By Deb and Doug Stafinski

After a two year hiatus, the Vicksburg Lions Club will be hosting its major fundraiser, the 47th Annual Summer Festival, at the Vicksburg Community Pavilion site on July 21-23. This event, better known as the B&B, features a variety of activities. Family night on Thursday offers free vision screening, crafts and games. On Friday the B&B opens at 11 a.m. for lunch and takeout service. The evening features an adult cornhole tournament and live music. Saturday starts with an adult horseshoe tournament, and the Vicksburg High School 50+ year alumni luncheon. Live music will wrap up the evening.

This is the Vicksburg Lions Club 69th year of service to the community. It has donated over $737,000 in support of state and local projects.

The schedule:
THURSDAY – B&B opens at 4 p.m.
Children’s Games & Crafts 6-8:30 p.m.
With Free Kidsight Vision Screening
Live Music Danny Jam 9 p.m.

FRIDAY – B&B opens for lunch at 11 a.m.
Adult Cornhole Tournament 6-9 p.m.
Live Music “Back Roads Band 8 p.m.-midnight

SATURDAY – B&B opens for lunch 11 a.m.
Vicksburg High School 50 + year Alumni Luncheon 11 a.m.
Adult Horseshoe Tournament 11 a.m.
Live Music “Fred Clark and Friends” 8 p.m.-midnight.

Thursday Night is Family Night and all ages are welcome. Friday and Saturday nights after 9 p.m. no one under the age of 21 will be allowed inside the festival site.