Meet HopSkipDrive CareDriver Apollos Cassian

Apollos Cassian CareDriver
Apollos Cassian heard about the opportunity to become a HopSkipDrive CareDriver from someone who knew a lot about it — his mom, who is a CareDriver herself. He loves to connect with the students he drives through music, and he has completed a total of 167 trips in the Seattle area since becoming a CareDriver in August of 2021.

Why did you become a CareDriver?

Initially, my reasons for becoming a CareDriver were the flexible schedule and competitive pay. After the first drive, however, I experienced how being a CareDriver had much more to offer — including the opportunity to be a safe place where students feel welcomed, heard and encouraged.

What do you like most about being a CareDriver?

Being able to engage with the students. Hearing their stories. Learning about the music they listen to, the classes they like, what they want to be when they grow up. I love being able to ask students appropriate questions that bring out the positive aspects of their life, and to then encourage them to pursue those things. Of course, I also like the pay and the flexibility!

Tell us about your caregiving experience.

Growing up, I didn’t have a father or a stable home environment. When I went to college, I decided that I wanted to help youth facing similar challenges. I spent the next nine years working with youth.

Do you have any stories about special experiences with Riders you can share?

I pick up a student who is, for the most part, nonverbal. However, after dropping him off the first day, I asked the teacher if there is anything he likes to listen to that I can play in the car. The teacher told me he loves kid’s songs, so I now play kid’s songs every time I pick him up. Whenever we sing “Old MacDonald,” he will say the animals and make their respective sounds.
I picked up a high school student and asked if there was anything she wanted to listen to. She said that most people don’t understand her music. So I told her that she was in a safe place where there’s no judgment. She told me she listens to death metal rap — I didn’t know a genre like this even existed. She then started talking about how she listens to different music depending on how she feels. I asked her if it would be okay if I played one of the death metal songs. She agreed; we listened to it and I asked her questions about what it meant. Basically, I wanted her to know that there are people who do listen, show genuine interest and don’t judge. She reminded me of when I was in high school and was struggling to understand who I was and how to process the craziness of life.
I drive a sister (around age 10) and a brother (around age eight), and one day the topic of rap came up. I told them that I used to practice freestyling with a high school student. As a result, they frequently request that we each freestyle about some random topic, like the clouds or a tree. 
Another student in high school shared with me that he had written some rap songs, and that he’d even done a rap video on YouTube. The next time I picked him up, I had his music on the playlist and was like, “Hey, do you know who this is? He’s got some good flow!” We spent the rest of the ride talking about the lyrics and how deep they were.
Every student, every life, is meaningful. As a result, each drive is an opportunity to encourage and to be encouraged. Even silence, when used rightly, can have a positive impact.

What would you say are the most important things you gain from being a CareDriver?

I believe what I gain from any job is largely dependent upon what I bring to the job. I value compassion, patience, listening and learning how to ask questions. I value learning about the journey other people are on, and encouraging them to persevere. 
As a CareDriver, I am able to interact with students from all walks of life and perspectives. Being a CareDriver provides the opportunity to practice these values.

Do you see yourself being a CareDriver long-term?

Yes, I do see myself doing this long-term because there’s flexibility, and the pay is competitive and fairly consistent. Also, I really enjoy the opportunity to talk with students.


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