Janie’s Story

Janie Kinsey

Janie Kinsey with Harold McAlister. He was the first Red Cross volunteer driver to take Janie to a dialysis appointment in 2008.

On Thursday, August 22, 2013, the Muskegon Transportation Service held their annual volunteer picnic. It is always a time for volunteers to enjoy the company of fellow volunteers, share their favorite dish to pass, and to reflect on the accomplishments from the previous year.

This year, the volunteers wanted to invite a special guest. Janie Kinsey had used our service to get to her dialysis treatment starting in 2008. Our volunteers got to know and love Janie during her three weekly trips to get her life-saving treatment. All of the drivers enjoyed Janie’s warm personality and sense of humor despite her serious health condition.

In May 2013, Janie finally got the news she had been waiting for, she was going to get a kidney transplant! The surgery was a great success. Since Janie still needed to go to Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids for checkups after surgery, our drivers signed up on a waiting list for the opportunity to drive Janie there. During one of those trips, Janie talked to volunteers Harold and Lois McAlister about how much she missed seeing her old friends, her drivers. The McAlister’s knew the volunteer picnic was quickly approaching, so they invited her. Janie quickly accepted.

When Janie arrived at the picnic, she was greeted with a wheelchair decorated with flowers and balloons, a tiara, a floral bouquet, and warm greetings from all of her Red Cross friends. Tears flowed freely for both Janie and “her angels”, as she referred to them. Janie was welcomed and when asked to say a few words, she thanked everyone for their kindness and caring. She said it was a day she would never forget for the rest of her life. When the comment was made that she would sleep well tonight, she added “I don’t think I will sleep at all, I am going to be up calling everyone I know to tell them about this!”

The American Red Cross of West Michigan helps about 1,800 people each year by providing free transportation to seniors who have no other means of getting to important medical appointments. In 2012, volunteers provided 591,000 miles of service to these people, enough to go around the world nearly 24 times!

Support this program by becoming a volunteer driver or making a donation at your community’s Red Cross office.

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