Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Volunteer Chore driver named United Way Volunteer of the Year

the Inland Register

(From the May 22, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)

Bonnie Thiele (at left in photo), a volunteer driver with Catholic Charities’ Volunteer Chore Services, is United Way’s Volunteer of the Year in the senior category. Pictured with her is Barb Trudeau, who also was nominated for a United Way Volunteer award. (IR photo courtesy of Catholic Charities, Spokane)

Bonnie Thiele, a volunteer driver for Volunteer Chore Services since 2000, won the 2008 United Way Volunteer of the Year in the Senior Category.

Volunteer Chore Services (VCS), a program of Catholic Charities Spokane, provides volunteers to help low-income seniors and low-income adults with disabilities with tasks around the home and with transportation. As one of the volunteer drivers, Thiele provides essential transportation for low-income residents of Spokane County who cannot drive.

Thiele has been the most active volunteer driver since she started in 2000. She gives over 150 hours of volunteer time and drives approximately 2,500 miles every month.

She is affectionately known by clients and staff as the “ever-ready bunny”: “ever ready” to pick up clients and take them to doctor’s appointments or to the grocery store. She’ll also drive to other counties, frequently picking up clients who are being discharged from one of the area hospitals, and taking them to Republic, Moses Lake or Pasco.

Even after getting home late, if the VCS transportation scheduler calls asking about one more trip that day, invariably Thiele is out the door and down the road again. It is her willingness to travel long distances (often at night), drive on weekends, and put in long days that makes her an extraordinary volunteer and an angel to clients.

Thiele often befriends these individuals who so badly need someone to really care about them. She makes a connection with them that makes a real difference in their lives.

Bonnie Thiele is close to her two surviving sons and daughter, as well as to her eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Because of her own life experiences and background in the medical field, she is able to be empathetic and compassionate with all of the VCS clients she helps.

Clearly, this is more than volunteer “work” – it is a passion, a mission, and the VCS staff joins the community in honoring and applauding Bonnie Thiele.

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