Volunteer services see the impact of rising gas prices

(ABC 6 News) – It’s no secret gas prices are on the rise, and it’s probably hurting more than just your pockets. But what about volunteer services that might not have a significant source of funding for gas?

In a small town like Hayfield, gas prices can be a big concern.

"With any business, we have to manage our costs and emergency services are a business. So we have to manage our costs and fuel is one of the larger costs that we incur," said John Bacigalupo, an emergency medical technician with Hayfield Community Ambulance.

"Our paid-on-call staff, which would be the closest thing to what you would consider a volunteer that lives in the city here, myself included, respond to emergency calls very routinely in our own vehicles ahead of the ambulance. Those people, including myself, are putting all that gas into our tanks without any reimbursement whatsoever from the ambulance service or the city."

For Olmsted County Public Works, the county has a budget of $500,000 but it’s getting tough to save on gas. So much so, the county has people sharing vehicles.

Chad Schuman, a highway maintenance engineer with Olmsted County Public Works spoke on the issue: "Different operations take the right equipment to do the operation. There isn’t a whole lot of savings unless we want to cut our services to our customers."

At Family Service Rochester, which operates the Meals on Wheels program: "It affects everything and all of these price increases are hitting our seniors pretty high," said April Sutor, director of innovation and collaboration at Family Service Rochester.

Volunteers use their own vehicles to deliver meals seven days a week. They’re being given gas gift cards to help, but other costs are rising too.

"The other impact that the high price of fuel is having is the cost of our meal. Our vendor sees an increase in the cost of the food because of the increased costs of transportation so that gets passed on to us as well."

Sutor said she doesn’t see the price of Meals on Wheels increasing. Family Service Rochester will find a way to cover those expenses rather than passing them on.