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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Volunteer Drives the Spirit of Volunteerism

March 18, 2008

Volunteer of the Year gives his time
to serve our Nation’s veterans

HOUSTON, TX – Roy Fikes begins his volunteer day at 2:30 a.m., when he gets ready, completes his paperwork, picks up his riders, and is on his way to Houston by 5:15 a.m. Fikes volunteers his time by driving veterans from Bay City to Houston for their appointments at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC).

Fikes makes sure that his riders get to their appointments, and he waits for each one to finish before they load up to head back home. Sometimes, if a veterans’ appointment runs over they worry that they might not have a ride home. That won’t happen with Fikes. His philosophy is, “I bring somebody up here, and when it’s time to leave, I make sure that everyone who came with me, goes back with me. I can’t just leave somebody here.”

Over the last four years, Fikes has volunteered 5,521 hours for the Veterans Transportation Network at MEDVAMC. He drives 180 miles round trip at least three days a week in order for these veterans to make it to their appointments. This 68 year old veteran has an intense dedication to his service that you won’t find in many volunteers. Driving patients to their appointments from such a distance is a long, hard, intense job, but Fikes wouldn’t have it any other way.

He started volunteering because he likes to help people, and realized that someday it could be him that needs some of that same help.  At times, that often means that Fikes doesn’t get home to his wife of 50 years until late in the evening. His dedication won’t allow him to worry too much about that. Whether it’s getting caught in Hurricane Rita evacuation traffic because a patient needed dialysis, or having to stay late because a veteran needed an unscheduled procedure, or driving a patient on Christmas day for life saving dialysis, Fikes does what needs to be done, or as he puts it, “I can work as hard as I want to, because I’m trying to help people.”

Fikes is very easy going, with a pleasant personality, and always has a smile on his face. He is an extraordinary volunteer, and we are glad to have him. “I really have a good time up here. It feels good to do what I do, and I’m very proud of what I’ve done,” says Fikes. “Fikes is one of those extraordinary volunteers, who’s willing to do whatever it takes. I wish we had ten more just like him,” said Bryan J. Dyck, Voluntary Service program manager.

For these reasons and for his dedication to fellow veterans, Fikes was chosen as the MEDVAMC Volunteer of the Year for 2007.  The MEDVAMC honors community volunteers like Fikes during National Volunteer Week, April 27 – May 3 2008.  Fikes encourage others to find out more about being a VA volunteer by calling the MEDVAMC Voluntary Service Office at (713) 794-7135.

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