by Stephen Pimpo Jr./KLEW

CLARKSTON, WA (KLEW) –

Drive to work, go to the doctor or just go shopping. Many of us use our cars daily. But if it's been removed?

"I was forced to stop driving because of macular degeneration," says Ben Burns, 73, of Clarkston.

Burns can not drive due to a condition leading to severe vision loss. He relies on Interlink's volunteer drivers at least twice a week to attend his multiple medical appointments.

"For me, they are like angels of the earth," says Burns. "They help me in many tasks and go to the doctor in the LC Valley."

John Hendrickson, of Lewiston, has been driving with Interlink for over 10 years and volunteers five days a week from October to May.

"Just help people who can not help themselves," he said.

He says he enjoys getting to know his passengers, the elderly or the disabled in the valley.

"I like to talk to them, tell them where I come from, find out where they are from," Hendrickson says.

In 2017, volunteers traveled more than 65,000 km. It's about the same distance as twice around the world.

But Interlink's free transport service is not limited to walks. It's a way to help elderly and disabled citizens stay healthy, both emotionally and mentally.

"They're all out of life," says Jackie Wahl, Interlink Program Assistant, and "day in and day out, if they can not go out, they sit alone.

"Most of the time, they're talkative because they can not talk to people," says Hendrickson.

And isolation can lead to serious consequences in the LC Valley.

"I understand our high rates of suicide," said Wahl. "There is a high percentage of young people, but we also have a high percentage of seniors in this category."

That's why the non-profit organization is always looking for volunteers to join them in its crucial work.

"I am very grateful for their service," says Burns.

If you need help from Interlink, contact it 48 hours in advance. Passengers in need and anyone interested in volunteering can call 509-751-9143 or go to interlinkvolunteers.org.