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STAFF PHOTO BY SUSAN USHM
DRIVING PATIENTS to medical appointments is a satisfying way to volunteer for first Ela Mae, and
now Caesar Hardy.
Driving Is Caesar Hardy's Way
Of Doing Something For Others
BY SUSAN USHER
"I'm not going to wear out my car
That's the "what's in it for me?"
attitude Caesar Hardy encounters
regularly when he tries to encourage
someone to follow in his tracks.
For the past 12 or 13 years the
Shallotte area resident has commut
ed the highways to and from Boli
via, Wilmington, Myrtle Beach,
White v ill e sometimes ss far as
Fayetteville. He hasn't traveled
Hardy is one of four transporta
tion volunteers with the Brunswick
County Department of Social
Services, donating his time to both
the Medicaid and aging programs.
Together the volunteers typically
make 70 round trips a month, some
times traveling to Durham or Chapel
Hill to see that clients get the med
ical care they need.
Hardy sticks to shorter trips. In
August he logged more than 3,000
miles and donated 236 hours to the
volunteer job he inherited from his
wife, Ela Mae, who sometimes sub
stitutes for him now.
"Somebody needed to work and
he couldn't because he's disabled,"
she says, "so 1 did." Whenever
work's available, she sews for Kool
A-Brew, a company near Calabash,
and also takes in sewing at home.
Hardy and volunteers L.H.
Morgan, Louise Bryant and Penny
Bryant barely make a dent in de
mand for the service ? a demand
that's expected to increase dramati
cally after the first of the year.
Already all 7,410 Medicaid-eligible
county residents qualify if they need
transportation. After Jan. 1, all SSI
clients (those birth and older with a
disabling condition or age 65 or old
er and not eligible for Social
Security) automatically become eli
gible for Medicaid and will be
screened for transportation needs.
"We need more volunteers. It's
especially important for the children
we serve. The health department is
pushing to make sure children get
the immunization shots and the pre
ventive care they need," said Evelyn
Johnson, adult services supevisor
with the Brunswick County Social
"It's a good reason to get up in the
morning and to sleep good at night ,
because you know you ' ve done
something good. " ? Caesar Hardy
"Sometimes we have to say 'we
just can't meet this need,' even
though transportation is supposed to
no longer be a barrier to clients re
Volunteers can drive as often or as
little as their schedule allows. They
are required to carry 550,000 per
person/per incident and $50,000
property damage liability insurance
and to have a valid driver's license.
Beyond that, Johnson says the main
requirements are "patience and un
Caesar Hardy has both, gently
handling clients who try to abuse the
service by demanding side trips to
the grocery story or to visit a rela
tive, and waiting patiently while
they receive services. He uses the
time to read his Bible or Sunday
He could be sitting at home on
Smith Avenue in front of the TV
whining about his lot in life. In 1963
he was injured in a subway accident,
losing his left leg and the use of his
right arm. More recently two en
counters with cancer of the larynx
have resulted in removal of his lar
Instead he drives.
Hardy's roomy Oldsmobile offers
a comfortable ride to patients, most
of whom would rather be going
someplace else than to the doctor's
office, health department, therapy
center or hospital.
"That's all I ever use my car for,"
he says. "The Lord made it possible
for me to have it, and 1 told him that
is what I'd do with it."
He credits to the Lord's care also
that the car runs with fewer prob
lems than the average driver might
have. "It's only broken down with
me one time on the road," he says
With a 28.5-cents per mile
mileage reimbursement rate and no
pay, it's obvious the volunteers don't
drive for the money, something
many of Hardy's friends and neigh
bors don't understand.
"I've tried to convince others to
do it," he says, "but they just won't.
I tell them that as Christians it's our
duty ? helping people who can't
help themselves ? but that doesn't
go very far with them."
The rewards might not be tangi
ble, but for him "it's a good reason
to get up in the morning and to sleep
good at night, because you know
you've done something good,"
Hardy said. "I love to be doing
something for people."
Editor's Note: Anyone interested
in becoming a transportation volun
teer for the Brunswick County
Department of Social Services may
contact Evelyn Johnson, 253-439],
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