Glennette Combs hopes to channel her extensive history of volunteer and community service in her new role as volunteer recruiter for the Missouri Rural Health Association (MRHA). She currently oversees volunteer recruitment, training, and guidance for the HealthTran program, a free service in Missouri that pairs volunteer drivers with rural residents in need of rides to health appointments.
After seeing her impressive resume, MRHA HealthTran Director Mary Gordon quickly connected with Combs and brought her on board. “Both of us decided it would be a great fit and a great opportunity to use some of my previous experiences plus learn something new,” Combs said. “I’m working with drivers and get to know that I’m helping people in the communities get reliable transportation so that they can get to their medical appointments as needed.”
A History of Service
Prior to joining MRHA, Kansas City native Combs held a variety of positions preparing her for this new role. As a teenager, she regularly worked with local soup kitchens and Kansas City Parks and Recreation, and helped facilitate an annual easter egg hunt for blind children. In college, she volunteered as a crisis hotline operator with the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA).
For five years, she operated a 60-child, 15-staff daycare in Jefferson City, Missouri. Along with earning a Missouri private investigators’ license, she worked as senior communication analyst for Guarded Exchange monitoring inmate communications via phone calls, mail, and photography.
During a recent two-year term as an Americorps Vista volunteer, she supervised 19 volunteers for the summer service program based out of Eldon, Missouri. “We did all kinds of work for the city of Eldon,” she said. “It was a lot of fun; I made a lot of great friends.”
Combs has also worked in marketing, sales, retail, and as a waitress. “My background has a wide variety, but I do have quite a bit experience working with volunteers,” she said. “You name it, I’ve done it.” Although no two jobs are quite the same, she finds joy connecting with and serving others in each position.
Connecting Communities with HealthTran
As volunteer recruiter, Combs plans to continue focusing on helping others by creating community connections. One of the highlights of MRHA’s groundbreaking HealthTran program is the lasting relationships made over time between drivers and riders.
Rural residents schedule rides to and from routine health and wellness appointments with local volunteer drivers. Program testimonials speak to the friendships developed between pairs of riders and drivers – some of whom even exchange small gifts, such as fresh produce or sweets.
Perks of being a volunteer driver include:
- Receive mileage reimbursement at $0.80 per mile.
- Set your own schedule by selecting rides that meet your availability.
- Set your own limits – drive locally or long distance.
- Receive CIMA Volunteer insurance coverage.
- Receive a complimentary MRHA membership.
Drivers can set their schedule and distance limits to meet their needs, such as fitting volunteer hours around a class schedule or avoiding driving at night or long distances. Volunteer drivers must be at least 21 years old and use their own vehicle.
Once drivers establish interest, Combs assists with the onboarding process to help them complete the necessary paperwork, certifications, and background screenings. She also trains drivers on scheduling ride availability and maintains contact to ensure they have the support they need.
“I’m available through the whole process and beyond,” she said. “I’m really big on keeping in contact if any problems arise or if they need to talk about something. Maybe they have an idea of ways to improve things – my ear is always open.”
Creating Community Champions
One of the greatest perks of becoming a volunteer driver is the complimentary MRHA membership. Along with advocacy and networking opportunities, among other perks, MRHA members have access to the association’s new community platform.
On the interactive platform, hosted by HigherLogic, members can discuss concerns, share resources, and collaborate on solutions to issues affecting rural health. This platform will allow members to continuously crowdsource ideas which will fuel expansion of current programs and services to neighboring networks, counties, states, and eventually nationwide.
MRHA staff, members, and volunteers are building a network of transportation across rural Missouri that will help bring health equity to people who are long overdue for the care and freedom of transportation they deserve. Supplementing this goal is the upcoming Mobility Management Certificate Program.
The program will provide invaluable knowledge and training to support community champions of transportation. Program participants will learn how to identify and address transportation concerns in their own community through hands-on activities.
The data gathered throughout the program will supplement research for years to come, offering a collaborative, transformative, and sustainable approach to transportation. Feedback from both the program and the member-driven community platform will continue to educate and influence the expansion of HealthTran, and vice versa.
The program is slated to begin enrolling in early 2022. To learn more about the Mobility Management Certificate Program, listen to the accessHealth podcast with administrative consultant Sherry McDonald. For questions about enrolling, contact Mary Gordon by calling 573.616.2740 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteer with MRHA
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the effect isolation can have on people stuck at home, especially those who live alone, or seniors separated from family. Volunteer drivers not only serve their community but also make new, long-time friends, in a time when connection is crucial.
For Combs, the most rewarding part of working with volunteers is reassuring them and keeping them motivated. “It’s a great thing that they’re doing,” she said. “They’re making a big difference where it’s needed, we really appreciate them.”
Becoming a champion for transportation allows you to be a part of the change you want to see in your community. Support your neighbors by becoming a volunteer driver and making a difference, one ride at a time.
“There’s a high need for drivers right now all over Missouri,” Combs said. “We’re working hard to get into different areas to meet the needs of the people. There’s plenty of opportunities and we’ll take you through the whole training process to make it as smooth as possible.”
To learn more about becoming a volunteer HealthTran driver, contact Combs at 573.469.9117 or via email at volunteerrecruiter@MORHA.org. Listen to her discuss her new role in her interview for the accessHealth podcast.
Learn about MRHA advocacy opportunities, the community platform, and more benefits of becoming a member.