Thursday July 24, 2014
South Burlington’s own Maida Townsend is one of six Vermont residents recently awarded the Sandra C. Labaree Award for 2014 by the New England Division of the American Cancer Society (ACS). This volunteer award is the most honored accolade given by the New England Division.
The Volunteer Values Award recognizes and honors the most inspired and passionate individuals whose behavior best exemplifies the society’s organizational values of mission, stewardship, diversity, and respect, those who provide service in the fight against cancer. These awards are very special reminders of the power volunteers have to save lives and reduce suffering from cancer. They are also imbued with special meaning because they are named in honor of the late Sandy Labaree, a society volunteer from Maine and founding member of the New England Division Board.
Townsend was selected for the award for her extraordinary and dedicated service as the coordinator for the ACS Road to Recovery program for Washington County, a role she has held since January 2009. The Vermont chapter of ACS invited Townsend to take on this volunteer position when the mother of a former colleague recommended her as someone who was “well organized”.
According to Townsend, the invitation came from out of the blue. ACS needed someone to “take care of” Washington County’s Road to Recovery program. She thought about it, felt it was certainly a worthy activity and figured that she could help and so, said yes. And she has been fully committed since that day.
The Road to Recovery program provides rides to treatment appointments for persons with cancer who do not otherwise have a way to get there. Townsend coordinates the volunteer drivers who give those rides, working closely with the patient navigator for Cancer Care at Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC). The drivers live in Washington County. Townsend notes, “They earn their angel wings many times over.” They drive the patients to treatments at Central Vermont Medical Center, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and Fletcher-Allen... as well as to doctors’ offices and ancillary treatment facilities. When there is no driver available, Townsend herself drives. From her experience, Townsend also says that Washington County needs more drivers.
Last year the Washington County Road to Recovery program gave 662 one-way rides. This may not seem like a lot, but the facility only sees roughly 350 cancer patients per year.
Theresa Lever who is the patient navigator for Cancer Care at CVMC provided the following testimonial about Townsend’s volunteer service:
Maida is an extraordinarily dedicated and successful Road to Recovery coordinator. Because of Maida’s dependability and efficiency, there are more Road to Recovery rides provided in Washington County than any other Vermont county, including Chittenden. Since our center opened 5 years ago, Maida has fulfilled every request to find a driver for a person needing a ride to treatment or other cancer-related appointment. Really, really short notice? Not a problem! She has deep appreciation for the drivers and is considerate of their needs. She regularly includes herself in the driving assignments, even though she lives 45 minutes away in South Burlington, and takes the extra miles in stride. Because Maida is Maida—consummately conscientious—transportation is not an obstacle to our patients receiving their cancer care. What a gift!
A few years ago, when Townsend starting thinking about running for a legislative seat one factor in deciding whether to run concerned her role as the Road to Recovery coordinator. Townsend, knowing the importance of her role in the care and treatment of cancer patients, decided that she would not run if she could no longer coordinate rides. Fortunately for all, Townsend determined that she could still do so and went on to become a Representative.
According to Lever, her Road to Recovery success does not wane during the legislative session. If Townsend isn’t able to make calls or send e-mails from the State House, she makes it a priority to do so at the beginning or end of her long day.
As noted in the nomination, Townsend goes above and beyond what is asked of a Road to Recovery coordinator. She is passionate about the mission, compassionate for the patients, and an all-around amazing woman.