Meet HopSkipDrive CareDriver Maria Lapides
Written by Karen Sampson
Maria Lapides remembers what it was like as a working mom struggling to get her two children where they needed to go every day. She signed up to become a HopSkipDrive CareDriver because she wanted to help other parents who are in the same position.
Below, in her own words, she talks about how being a CareDriver enables her to make a difference — and just how much she gets back in return.
“I became a CareDriver because I remember being a mom of two children and having to split my time between work and schlepping — yes schlepping — two kids to and from school and activities every day. It’s not easy, and not having family nearby meant it was always a struggle for me to get help.
A temple member told me about Carolyn Yashari and two of her friends, Joanna and Janelle, who were starting a rideshare company for kids. (I give credit to these women for having a vision and seeing it to fruition!) So I did some research about HopSkipDrive and found out that I really wanted to give back and help those who, like me, needed this kind of help. So I went through the comprehensive process and became a CareDriver.
I love ‘HopSkipDriving’ for a variety of reasons. First, I love kids. Being able to be there for them when their mom, dad or caregiver cannot makes me feel good. I don’t look at it as a job but rather as a choice I have made to give back to the community and help those who need it. It really does take a village, and we all must do our part to help.
I learn so much from every ride I claim. The stories I am told — the experiences the kids have — teach me something new every day. As a CareDriver, I also act in some ways as a mentor, guidance counselor, coach and therapist. Sometimes, kids just want someone to talk to who is non-judgmental, compassionate and knowledgeable about certain things they are interested in. I have ample experience as a mom, a business professional, an organizer and a leader so I have something to offer. Kids gravitate to that, and they look forward to the drive with me.
Having grown up with brothers who were blind and a niece who is autistic, I know how to deal with children with special needs. It takes extra time, and I understand what to do. If a child does not want to or cannot chat, we don’t! If a child needs to be soothed with music, we put on the radio! I do what it takes to make the ride easy and pleasurable from point A to to point B.
If I can make an impact on a child’s experience, I will try to at all times. I gain a feeling of self-worth knowing I was able to be there for them. For example, the kids applying to college love to read me their essays. In the end, the many kids I have driven have actually been teachers to me. They have taken me places I have never been, and shared stories, recipes, iPhone knowledge, music, art, jokes and laughter — all G-rated, of course!
Being a HopSkipDrive CareDriver is about more than just being a driver in a bright-orange t-shirt. It is about being a caregiver, a friend, the kind of person you can trust with your precious cargo. Because HopSkipDrive is all about trust.