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CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF

LLANO — For 82-year-old Leslie Turbiville, being a volunteer driver for Older Adult Rural Services is his chance to give back to those in need.

“I feel bad about how much I have and how little other people have; sometimes through their own fault and sometimes through no fault of their own,” he said.

Turbiville transports a handful of Burnet and Llano county residents to doctor’s appointments, the grocery store and other locations, both locally and in the Austin area.

“I have one that moved out here, and she was having no problem driving herself. Suddenly, the doctor and her children told her she can’t drive anymore. She was really upset about that, so now I’m driving her,” he said. “I have a couple who moved out here from San Antonio. They did not realize how difficult it was to get around — no taxi service, no bus service.”

OARS, based in Marble Falls since 2002, serves residents who are 60 and older.

The program, which falls under the umbrella of the Texas Housing Foundation, offers services such as utility bill assistance, health referrals and other resources, including food banks connections, so-called “Caring Calls” and the volunteer rides program.

Turbiville is one of five OARS volunteers. The program coordinator said she needs more like him.

“I’m in dire need of volunteers,” OARS director Jeanene Olson said.

“A lot of our elderly are isolated. In some ways, they’re forgotten. A volunteer will be able to show them that people still care about them,” she said. “Sometimes, they can’t get a ride to go to the doctor, so therefore they don’t get a ride to the doctor, and before long, it becomes an emergency. Sometimes, it’s too late.”

Caring Calls has changed the outlook of a number of clients at risk of depression and withdrawal.

“If you have someone checking on you every day or every three days, it makes you feel like a human being again,” Olson said.

Volunteers benefit from their participation as well.

“It’s such a reward to see a smile coming from somebody’s face,” she said.

Turbiville, who served in the U.S. Navy for 30 years and eventually retired after a career as a hospital administrator, said he believes it’s his duty to continue serving others.

“I do think like that because I think I owe something to somebody, and I’m not even sure who I owe it to,” Turbiville said.

To volunteer, call (512) 755-2901 or (830) 798-0543. The OARS office is located at 1600 Mustang Drive at Highland Oaks in the Club Room.

connie@thepicayune.com