‘My reward is helping people’

Passion for volunteering drives CMPD Deputy Chief Foster

By Jordan-Ashley Walker,
Charlotte Communications & Marketing

Deputy Chief Vicki Foster has made a career of public service. She worked her way through the ranks of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) to become a deputy chief after beginning as a patrol officer 26 years ago. She loves her job.

But in addition to her years of service to Charlotte through CMPD, Foster found herself looking for a volunteer service opportunity outside of law enforcement. She wanted to give back, but she didn’t know how to get started.

Foster visited VolunteerMatch.org, an organization that helps connect people with volunteer opportunities that suit their unique interests, abilities and schedules.

With Foster’s demanding work schedule, she knew she needed a volunteer opportunity that was flexible. She also knew that she wanted to volunteer for causes she was passionate about — which include working with the elderly and helping those battling cancer and autoimmune diseases.

And that’s how she matched with the Road to Recovery program more than two years ago.

The American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program provides transportation to and from cancer treatment for patients who need help getting to their appointments.

“They are so appreciative,” Foster said. “It is the best thing. I swear it helps me more than it helps them.”

As cancer patients are receiving treatment, many of them are unable to drive themselves to their appointments. The patients often feel too sick or too tired, and they need help getting around. And with some patients’ rigorous treatment schedules, transportation becomes a burden on family, friends and loved ones, too.

That’s where Foster and the rest of the Road to Recovery volunteers come in.

“It takes up so little of your time, and it means so much to them,” Foster said.

When she picks up a patient, Foster becomes so much more than a chauffeur. She’s not only a driver, but a confidant, a counselor, a caregiver and a friend.

She and her riders talk about any number of things. Sometimes the patients what to talk about their treatments. Other times, they just want to talk about cooking or basketball or family.

Whatever they want to talk about, Foster is there with a kind smile and a willingness to listen.

“My reward is helping people,” Foster said. “Everyone should seek out an opportunity to help out those who aren’t as fortunate as they are.”

Foster has found immense joy in her time with Road to Recovery. She encourages anyone who hasn’t found that special volunteer opportunity to get involved with an organization or group they’re passionate about.

“You’re put here to help someone other than yourself,” Foster said. “You’ve got to find a way to give back.”

For more information about the Road to Recovery program, click here.