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Penny Watson logs mileage driving her contemporaries

By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Newcastle’s Penny Watson is the driving force in many people’s lives. Watson volunteers with the Seniors First program’s door-to-door rides service. She provides transportation to seniors for medical appointments, banking, shopping, the pharmacy, the hairdresser and other destinations both around Auburn and as far afield as Roseville. Watson, a senior herself, said that what she is really providing is a chance for many to remain independent. “I’m helping them to live on their own and be fully independent rather than have to move to a home or move in with family,” Watson said. Watson, a Castle City Mobile Park resident, said many of those people are at other parks like Woodside Village and Rock Creek mobile home park in North Auburn. Others are in apartments living on their own, but limited in their abilities and slowed by walkers. “They have some family but can’t count on them every day, for example a daughter or son who may be near but work and can’t be there all the time,” Watson said. “Being unable to drive is like having an arm cut off. It’s definitely life-changing when you can’t drive any more.” When Watson takes a senior to a grocery store, she’ll help by taking items down from shelves that are hard to reach, reading labels, and carrying groceries in from the car. Some seniors have vision challenges. Others aren’t as mobile as they once were. “They’re just so happy to be able to go out and do what they need to do,” Watson said. As well as the door-to-door program, Watson provides rides for friends who no longer can drive. Dave Albright, Citizens Involved Means Better Living president, describes Watson as a “phenomenal” volunteer in the work she does for his organization as well as for her other activities. “She’s a person you look at and say ‘She’s good people,’” Albright said. “Every time I call her, she’s driving seniors to the doctors and other places. They wouldn’t be able to live in their own homes if it wasn’t for the things she does for seniors.” Citizens Involved Means Better Living is involved with regular cleanups of roadside trash around the county. Watson is a longtime volunteer with that organization, as well as with the Auburn State Recreation Area Canyon Keepers. “We have these golden nuggets stuck within the community,” Albright said. “They don’t ask for thanks. They just pop in and pop out, making Placer County a better place to live.” The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com. --------- Door-to-door rides for seniors To find out more on how to volunteer for the Seniors First door-to-door ride service and several other programs, call (530) 889-9500 or visit seniorsfirst.org. The program is made possible through an Area 4 Agency on Aging grant, local community support and tax-deductible donations. Click here for an updated list on ways you can help out in the community. Ways to Lend a Hand