LAKE CATHIE's Marilyn Northey has been a volunteer driver with Port Macquarie disability service provider ACES for nearly seven years.
ACES is hoping to find more people just like her.
ACES' programs help service users develop social and living skills, and get out into the community as much as possible. They also offer the chance for carers to take some time out or to go to work, shopping or to appointments.
If Marilyn's face looks familiar, that is because she was once a friendly and much-admired employee at Woolworths Lake Cathie.
Three mornings a week she rises early, collects one of ACES' 8-seater minibuses, then heads off to pick up her 'regulars' at Herons Creek, Laurieton, Bonny Hills and Lake Cathie
Carlie Culf travels to ACES with Marilyn a couple of times a week, and the two of them have become great mates.
"When Carlie's in the car, we always have a lot of fun," Marilyn said.
"She really likes listening to music, so we often sing a few songs."
Carlie says she likes spending time with Marilyn, who is also her favourite driver.
"She's lovely," Carlie said, with a huge smile.
More volunteer drivers are needed to help people from the Camden Haven area to access ACES' vital services.
ACES receives no government funding for transport and therefore relies heavily on volunteer support.
"The more volunteer drivers ACES have, the more they can focus on developing other important equipment, training and resources," Marilyn explained.
According to Marilyn, the time she spends as an ACES volunteer is extremely rewarding.
"It starts my day on a good note, and we really do have a lot of laughs.
"I can see how much it means to families and carers, and it's only a couple of hours at the start of the day."
Volunteer drivers do not need a commercial license or any special skills other than safe, careful driving.
All ACES volunteers go through an induction and training process and receive ongoing support.
Vehicles are provided for most of the runs and volunteers are reimbursed for out of pocket expenses.
"ACES works with volunteers across a number of roles, based on their preferences, availability and skills," said ACES spokesperson Cody Boylan.
"A number of our drivers are retired people who still want to be active in the community and are interested in helping others."
Outside driving, volunteer roles include gardening and property maintenance, as well as creative arts and music tutors.
If you like to find out more, please call Cody Boylan between 10am and 2pm or send him an email.
ACES main service centre is located at 3 Fernhill Road, Port Macquarie.
To contact Cody phone 02 6581 2348 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.