Angel Bus is patterned after the Angel Flight program, in which volunteer private pilots use their airplanes to transport medical patients to facilities for surgery, chemotherapy, dialysis, and other treatments. Angel Bus started back in 2000, with bus conversion owners providing transportation for patients with serious medical problems and their family members that needed to get a hospital or treatment facility a distance from their home. Unfortunately, the program ended after the death of founder Bill Conner.
Recently, Mercy Medical Airlift (MMA), a 30 year old charity that is the parent organization of Angel Flight, has taken on the Angel Bus project and is working to develop a network of volunteer motorhome owners who will provide transportation to those with medical needs and no easy way to get to a treatment facility, or back to their homes after treatment. Besides the Angel Flight project, which conducts an average of 2,000 missions a year, MMA also provides up to 8,000 airline tickets a year to patients and their families.
The Angel Bus Support Group is made up of volunteers who are working to spread the word about the Angel Bus project. They hope to enlist volunteers for the group, and to help organize Angel Bus chapters of national RV associations. An Angel Bus Chapter is being formed in the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), and it is hoped that similar groups will be formed among the Escapees RV Club and the Good Sam Club.
Angel Bus volunteer drivers are only asked to provide transportation for a patient and his or her assistant or family member. Volunteers are not expected to provide food or medical assistance. Most patients, including all children, are accompanied by an assistant and/or parent. Volunteers are briefed on each mission before committing to it, and can refuse any mission for any reason. Mission trips are usually under 500 miles, and longer trips are usually handled with a relay of volunteers. Typically, an Angel Bus volunteer will be assigned one mission a year, unless they volunteer for more. Angel Bus is a 501(C)(3) charity, and all expenses incurred on a mission are tax deductible.
If you are looking for a way to contribute something to society, this could be a perfect project for either fulltime RVers, or anybody with an RV who wants to help somebody in need. Angel Bus missions are something that almost all of us could provide to those in need, especially fulltimers who are not usually tied to a tight schedule, and have the freedom to travel at will.
I thought the original Angel Bus project conceived by Bill Conner was a great idea, and I’m pleased that it is being resurrected and will operate under the experienced direction of MMA. Visit the Angel Bus website to learn more about this excellent project.
Nick Russell www.gypsyjournal.net