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Ride Connection: Going the distance to drive veterans

Ride Connection needs more volunteers like Chuck Michel, a retired Army veteran who volunteers with the nonprofit transportation service to drive other veterans to places when they need a lift.by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Chuck Michel

Ride Connection's veteran program is just one of the transportation options that the organization and its network of service partners provide to older and disabled adults in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. Services are aimed at maintaining an individual’s independence. whether it’s door-to-door transportation, travel training using public transit, helping low-income job seekers get to an interview or providing general public services in rural communities.

Something as simple as a ride and a friendly conversation can make a world of difference to those in need, says Michel, a 70-year-old Troutdale resident who takes his passengers to health clinics, hair appointments and meal sites all over the Portland area. His most common destination is the Veterans Administration Hospital. Seeing him show up at their door often is the only interaction these riders have with other people, he says.

Michel's most memorable moment “on the job” was his first. Wearing his Army veteran hat, he knocked on the front door of his first rider for the day. A man opened the door, sized Michel up and down, then promptly slammed the door in his face. Taken aback, Michel made sure he had the right address. After confirming it was, he raised his hand to knock again when the rider opened the door with a huge grin on his face. Then he said, “I’m retired Navy, and I never miss an opportunity to give you Army guys a hard time!”

Ride Connection is seeking more drivers for the veteran program. If you want to be one of them, call Trink Easterday at 503-528-1738 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Mileage for volunteers is reimbursed at 55 cents per mile. Visit www.rideconnection.org for more information.