Tammi Barkman, left, transportation and volunteer services lead at FACS and Longtime FACS volunteer driver Sue Larochelle of Welland who was awarded for her almost 18 years of service to the organization are photographed at the third annual Celebration of Caring, an appreciation and awards dinner. – Julie Jocsak , The St. Catharines Standard

Family and Children’s Services Niagara celebrated its 180 volunteers and 140 foster families during its third annual Celebration of Caring, a banquet and awards dinner, at the Americana in Niagara Falls on earlier this month.

“Just over a hundred are drivers, the rest are service volunteers,” said Tammi Barkman, transportation and volunteer services lead for FACS. The drivers are busy, driving 2.6 million kms are driven each year. They go as far as London, Peterborough and Ottawa. And they can always use more drivers. Volunteers annually donate 70,000 hours of their time to the organization.

One of the volunteers was Sue Larochelle who has been driving for almost 18 years. She used to run a registered daycare but now enjoys ferrying children around to visits and appointments.

“I have done this type of work forever. I have worked with children and adults my whole life. It has been 17-and-a-half years and I don’t plan on quitting for another 17-and-a-half,” said Larochelle. “Love the idea of bringing the children to meetings with their parents, doctors appointments. It’s a necessity to do that, to keep them together, with a good outlook in the end.”

“Two things we are always recruiting for are drivers and male special friends,” said Barkman. They are also recruiting for foster families.

Fifteen people were awarded for five years of service, three were awarded for 10 years and one person was awarded for 20 of service.