Regardless of the weather, the driving conditions, or the distance, you can bet that New York native Paul Goetchius will make sure low-income students arrive to their college classes on time.
A retired environmental toxicologist (and wonderful conversationalist, according to the students), 76-year-old Goetchius has been offering free rides to college students for the past 8 years. Since he first started volunteering his automobile to the youngsters, Goetchius has logged an astounding 64,000 miles, and has shared a countless amount of meaningful, insightful, and often humorous conversations with the students he transports to and from school.
The students he’s driven have gone on to become physicians, teachers, and visual marketers, but what they also gotten out of their time in school is finding Goetchius as a role model and a friend. Some students even call him “Grandpa”.
26-year-old Nina Irby received rides from Goetchius for all four years she was in college, and the trips meant much more to her than just free transportation.
“It’s not just a ride, you’re not just sitting there in awkward silence or with your headphones on,” Irby told the Washington Post. “He asks you questions and actually remembers the answers, so the next time you ride with him, he’ll check in on those things.”
Goetchius first started volunteering as a student driver through the nonprofit On Point for College. Although the program only asks its volunteers to drive students to and from their classes, Goetchius often goes above and beyond to ensure the welfare and safety of the students. If they have issues with registration, Goetchius is there to assist them. If their dorm room doesn’t have window screens or air conditioning, Goetchius will drive to the nearest Home Depot and purchase what’s needed. If a student gets hungry on the long drives to and from class, Goetchius never hesitates to get them a meal – which he always insists on paying for.
For many students, Goetchius’s help is not only appreciated, it’s entirely necessary for them to be able to complete their college education. Some students don’t have a reliable car, while others have to share vehicles with parents who work 6 days a week. For them, riding with Goetchius has allowed them to complete their education – but according Goetchius, he benefits just as much from the experience.
“I just love driving, and I love these kids,” the septuagenarian told the Post. “I like to drive, and it’s such a blessing and a privilege to be a part of these kids’ lives, even just for a few hours, getting to know them and hearing their stories.”
Drive This Story To Your Friends By Sharing It To Social Media – Photo by Barbara Goetchius