LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A few of our 2018 Community Service Award honorees have something in common.
They're spending their retirement years staying active...by giving back.
That includes a volunteer who likes being in the driver's seat no matter how long the journey.
"I've loved to drive since I was a kid sitting on my granddaddy's lap steering the Model T. I couldn't wait until I got me a car and get me on down the road," says Clint Baker, CSA Honoree.
Baker loves to drive so much, he made it his career.
"I've been a traveling salesman all my life. I love to drive," he continues.
And now, at 82-years-old, he criss-crosses Arkansas in service to the state. As a volunteer for the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), he travels some 50-thousand miles a year, transporting children and families in the foster care system.
"What I enjoy doing is what I think they need the most," Baker says. "The perfect job for me. I love to drive, I love kids. I've been doing this since 2006 and I haven't regretted a moment of it."
What Baker does regret is the fact that kids have to make the long haul in the first place.
"I don't understand how come we don't have more foster parents and I don't understand why we don't have more therapeutic homes," he says. "It's a shame when you have one boy out of the family that's down there and I have to drive all the way to Fayetteville for a 1-hour visit. That's a lot of traveling for a child."
One of Baker's regular routes is from Helena in the southeast corner, to Fayetteville in the northwest corner, and back...in one day.
But it's on those long stretches of road where the kids have come to trust him and appreciate his company.
"I have met some really, really good kids and I have met some great parents in doing this over the years," says Baker. "I don't know any other way to put it other than I just like what I do, you know. It's easy for me to get up in the morning because I have a purpose. When I jump in this car and I crank that motor on and I've got something to do.
That something means everything to his passengers.
One of Baker's big wishes is that more families across the state would open their doors to high-needs foster children so that siblings don't have to travel so far, just to see each other.