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Gadabout Volunteer Driver of the Year

(Ithaca, NY) Gadabout Transportation Services is pleased to announce that Pete DeGraff of Ithaca has been named its 2010 Volunteer Driver of the Year, for his three and a half years of extraordinary flexibility, and time donated above and beyond the call of duty. DeGraff was recognized for his efforts at Gadabout’s Annual Picnic and Recognition Ceremony, which took place on Wednesday, June 16, 2010. Gadabout is a not-for-profit agency that provides door-to-door transportation services to Tompkins County residents age 60 and older, or who have disabilities. It relies heavily on volunteer drivers to keep its fares low for its riders, many of who are on fixed incomes. DeGraff began volunteering as a Gadabout driver in December 2006.Gadabout Executive Director Judy Willis says DeGraff has consistently volunteered to drive more than the one morning or afternoon per week that volunteers are asked to drive. “Pete drives two or three days per week for us. He’s been invaluable in terms of his flexibility and the time he donates above and beyond the call of duty. He’s a go-to person we can count on when other drivers call in sick, cancel or change their schedules at the last minute, and he’s done that since he first started volunteering with us three and a half years ago. We’re truly grateful for his time and efforts on our behalf.”DeGraff was a design engineer for the NCR Corporation until 1983, when he purchased the Inlet Park Marina on Taughannock Blvd. in Ithaca, and changed its name to the Ithaca Boating Center. DeGraff sold the business and retired in 1998. He began volunteering with Gadabout in December 2006, at the suggestion of a friend who was also a volunteer driver.DeGraff says, ‘I’ve always enjoyed driving, and helping others is what we’re all supposed to do, so Gadabout is a natural fit for me. I get to help people and do something I enjoy at the same time. Very few communities have a service such as Gadabout, and Tompkins County is truly lucky to have it. I like supporting Gadabout, and it really needs all the volunteers it can get, so I’m happy to put in the extra time when I can.”Gadabout provided approximately 64,000 one-way rides in 2009, and expects to provide the same or more in 2010. 36 percent of its approximately $1 million dollar annual budget comes from rider fares. Fares are $1.50 within the city of Ithaca and $2.00 for trips crossing the city line, or entirely outside the city limits. Gadabout has not increased the fares in several years, despite rising fuel and insurance costs, because the vast majority of Gadabout’s riders are on fixed incomes.Gadabout is currently seeking volunteer drivers. Gadabout provides training and pays for the required NYS class “C” CDL license. Interested volunteers should call 273-1878 for more information.

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