When Sabino “Buddy” Diaz III shuttles Powell’s seniors around town, he provides more than just transportation: He also listens and talks with his passengers in a way that’s …
When Sabino “Buddy” Diaz III shuttles Powell’s seniors around town, he provides more than just transportation: He also listens and talks with his passengers in a way that’s therapeutic, said Powell Senior Center Director Linda Dalton.
Diaz “always has a smile and a good word for everyone,” Dalton said. “He finds good in everything and everybody.”
The Wyoming Public Transit Association recently recognized the good in Diaz, too, honoring him as its Driver of the Year during an Oct. 4 ceremony in Casper.
Diaz has worked as a full-time driver for the Powell Senior Center since June 2018. He helps bring seniors to and from a variety of appointments in and around Powell, for everything from medical checkups to haircuts to bank trips to visits with friends.
The center offers transportation from 8:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, within a 10-mile radius of town. However, Dalton wrote in her nomination letter that Diaz volunteers to come in early or stay late if a senior needs a ride outside of regular hours.
“He truly goes above and beyond what his job description requires,” Dalton wrote.
Early in his time with the center, the late Gary Mefford, who was himself a Driver of the Year, advised Diaz to “do a little extra” in serving Powell’s seniors. Diaz has sought to follow his former boss’s advice, from working outside regular hours to visiting former clients at the nursing home.
“I care about these people,” he said, and the stories they share “stay with me.”
Diaz’s efforts are appreciated by the center’s clients, Dalton said, as some specifically ask to have Diaz as their driver.
“If you meet Buddy, he becomes an instant friend,” she said in her letter, adding that there are very few people he hasn’t met in the Powell area.
“He is an asset to our senior center,” Dalton said. “And we are grateful that he is one of our drivers.”
For his part, Diaz is grateful for his job.
“I love it,” he said.
The nonprofit center charges $1.50 per one-way ride for qualifying seniors, plus 50 cents for each additional stop. All other passengers can pay $5 to ride in one of the center’s four ADA-accessible vehicles. Drivers also make monthly shopping trips to the Cody Walmart.