Amador STARS

The volunteer drivers for Amador Stars include: Myia Berner, Joanie Birmingham, Bob Bishel, Greg Broyels, Clyde Cabral, Linda Cole, Marilyn Dalbeck, Mike Datema, Keith Davie, Andie Dye, Sue Flynn, Mike Flynn, Otto Fox, Lisa Garbarini, George Goddard, Lisa Heimeyer, Gary Humphrey, Greg Ivanoff, Natalie Knittel, Rocky Lane, Dennis Larson, Paul Marsh,  Michael McCuaig, Mike McGuirk, Cindy McKim, Trish McNeil, Dick Minnis, Joy Palmer, Lisa Peterson, Todd Peterson, Steven Petty, Matt Powers, Liz Powers, Debbie Pretto, Ken Pries, Kim Rankin, Pam Reeder, Ralph Salinias, Gail Schifsky, Nancy Serna, Jim Shipley, Janet Shaw, Elaine Struffenegger, Mike Sweeney, Maryann Tremelling, Gary Vaughn, Michele Vicker, Stephanie Woolverton,  and Steve Zanetta.

“We need a hero, courageous sacrificing people, setting examples for all of us. Everybody loves a hero, people line up for ‘em, cheer for them, scream their names, and years later tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who told them to HOLD ON a second longer.” 

— Aunt May, Spiderman 2

It’s a little quote I think about from time to time, and inevitably when I do, the heroes that come to mind are the volunteers and drivers that work for Amador STARS.

“This is a group of the most passionate people I have ever met,” said Ginger Rolf, of Amador STARS. “They give so much of themselves without asking for anything in return. They are the true meaning of Amador County.” 

Amador STARS is blessed with over 100 volunteers who give to STARS for fundraising, special events, vehicle washing and maintenance, website design, fair window design and so much more.

This week I was fortunate enough to get to see the faces of Amador Stars volunteers who transport patients to their cancer treatments (shared in the photo above). 

Amador STARS is a local non profit that is celebrating their 17th year in Amador County serving cancer patients. 

These volunteers had to truly be essential. With the new COVID-19 guidelines, of those 65 years and older, and those who are vulnerable, needing to shelter in place, the Amador STARS truly stepped up to the plate.

“They chose to drive patients to treatments more than once a month or once a week,” said Rolf. “They stepped up and said, call me anytime.” 

They implemented and followed all the new COVID-19 guidelines that were put in place for Amador STARS to continue to serve their community, including answering questions each day, having their temperature taken, and wearing face masks while transporting patients to their cancer related treatments — this group continues to go above and beyond. 

Patients have also been asked a series of questions daily and having their temperature taken daily. They too, are now wearing facemasks and following protocols. 

Last year Amador STARS traveled over 133,000 miles getting patients to cancer related treatments. 

“A huge round of applause goes out to our two office coordinators: Liz Powers and Sheilah Asher,” said Rolf. “They have assisted in coordinating all the new guidelines to keep patients and volunteers safe during this pandemic.” 

Cancer sadly does not stop for pandemics and the treatments must continue. Treatments cannot be done by a virtual office visit, they must be done in person. Fortunately, Amador County is blessed to have so many essential volunteers to help at this time.

Amador STARS transports patients to treatment centers in Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento and San Joaquin Counties on a regular basis. Amador STARS also transports patients to the greater Bay Area, as needed. In many of those trips, Amador STARS also provides lodging and meals, when prior approval guidelines met, for patients when needing to remain out of town for treatments. Some weeks Amador STARS makes over 38 trips.

“Amador STARS provides scarves, head coverings, and  wigs with cut and styling for ladies in need during treatment,” said Rolf. “We are blessed with a volunteer licensed cosmetologist who donates her time to help those in need. Thank you Laura.” 

AMADOR STARS volunteers also coordinate the washing  and maintenance of the vehicles.

“Mike and Ralph cover transportation cleaning and maintenance,” said Rolf. “And STARS volunteers run the website (thank you Benita) and take care of all our other essential needs. STARS volunteers also create a fair window each year at the Amador County Fair (thank you, Jeannie), and there’s a huge group of volunteers who help to coordinate special events and fundraising. In fact, too many to name.” 

Thanks to each of them. Amador STARS is our community. 

“This community created the Amador STARS — (Support, Transportation and Resource Services),” said Rolf. “Life Is Good with the Amador STARS!”

Amador STARS holds 2 fundraisers each year. In April is Bunco for Breast Cancer and in September is Band Against Cancer. Amador STARS had also added an extra event this year: A Tom Petty tribute band concert. 

Amador STARS had to reschedule Bunco for Breast Cancer from April to October this year, due to the pandemic. Then later, Amador STARS had to cancel the October replacement date as well. 

Amador STARS is waiting to see what the future will hold for group gatherings for their Tom Petty tribute concert in August and Band Against Cancer in September. Amador STARS does not receive funding from the federal or state governments. All funds are generated from private donations, sponsorships and fundraising. 

“This year, we sadly will feel the impacts on our budget due to cancellations from the pandemic,” said Rolf.

All services provided by the Amador STARS are free of charge to local cancer patients. Amador STARS website is www.amadorstars.org. The office can be reached at (209) 267-1246. Like them on facebook, and if I may be so bold, please consider making a donation.

As Aunt May would say, “I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble.”

Hold on for a second longer, my friends. Heroes are all around you, volunteering, doing everything they can. If you need some inspiration. Some hope. A beacon to lift you from despair. Take a moment and take a look up to the stars — the Amador STARS. For with them, life is not only good — it’s blessed and amazing.