Today’s busy lifestyles can make it hard to find time to volunteer, however, the benefits of volunteering are enormous to you, your family and your community. The right match can help you make an impact in the community, learn new skills and even advance your career. As an American Cancer Society volunteer, you also can honor a survivor or a loved one lost to cancer while joining the fight to end the disease.

The American Cancer Society’s Road To Recovery program offers flexible scheduling and a chance to give back while helping cancer patients access lifesaving treatment. Right now, there is an urgent need for volunteer drivers across Maine, particularly in Penobscot County.

An estimated 8,920 Maine residents will learn they have cancer this year and getting to their scheduled treatment will be their greatest concern. To help patients get to the critical care they need without additional stress, the American Cancer Society Road To Recovery program can help provide free transportation to and from treatment for people who have cancer and who do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves.

“One cancer patient requiring radiation therapy could need between 20 to 30 trips to treatment over the course of six weeks,” said Elisa Madore, program managerfor Mission Delivery at the American Cancer Society. “A patient receiving chemotherapy may need weekly treatment for up to a year.”

Many cancer patients don’t own a vehicle, can’t afford the extra gasoline, or don’t have access to public transportation. Some patients may be elderly and unable to drive, too ill to drive, or have no family members or friends who are able to provide regular assistance with transportation.

“Volunteering doesn’t have to take over your life to be a valuable experience,” said Madore. “Just a few hours per week can be highly beneficial to both you and your chosen cause. The important thing is to volunteer only the amount of time that feels comfortable to you. Volunteering should be a fun and rewarding experience, not another chore on your to-do list.”

The Road To Recovery program provides transportation options for patients in dire situations and currently is in need of volunteer drivers in Penobscot County.Volunteer drivers donate their time and the use of their cars so patients can receive the lifesaving treatments they need. Drivers also often provide encouragement and support.

To volunteer, you must have a valid driver’s license, a safe and reliable vehicle, and proof of automobile insurance. Drivers must be between 18 and 84 years of age, have a good driving history and a regular desktop, laptop or tablet computer access. Drivers arrange their own schedules and can commit as many or as few hours as their schedule allows. The American Cancer Society provides free training to drivers and conducts criminal background and driving record checks.

“The most valuable skills you can bring to any volunteer effort are compassion, an open mind, a willingness to do whatever is needed, and a positive attitude,” said Madore. “Volunteering is a great way to meet new people. It also strengthens your ties to the community, exposes you to people with common interests and provides a sense of purpose.”

To learn more about the benefits of volunteering and to sign up to become a Road To Recovery volunteer, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.