Award for Kelly’s Car Service Driver in Bayside Queens Showcases Unique Relationship with St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children and Local Community
Bayside, NY – The job of a driver seems pretty ordinary: pick up and drop off passengers. But for Neil Black, of Kelly Car Service in Bayside, Queens, the job comes with far more than your average pick ups and drop offs. Neil received special acknowledgment during Driver Recognition Day from the Taxi and Limousine Commission honoring him for his exemplary work and dedication exhibited while transporting patients from St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children, one of the nation’s premier providers of healthcare for children with special needs and life-limiting conditions. Over the years he has formed an unthinkable bond with some of the New York region’s most seriously ill and injured children.
The sixth Annual Driver Recognition Ceremony held at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan on March 27th, 2008, paid tribute to dozens of the City’s most outstanding professional drivers for their courage, empathy and compassion demonstrated while transporting passengers.
Dr. Burton Grebin, President and CEO of St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children was proud to help Neil and Kelly’s Car Service receive the public recognition they deserve for their years of service to St. Mary’s kids.
“Neil is known around the hospital as one of the regular St. Mary’s guys,” Dr. Grebin said. “He has been transporting children to and from our facilities for many years and has developed a strong bond with our children and had a lasting positive impact in helping many of them cope with very challenging medical situations.
Richard Perlman, Manager of Kelly’s Car Service, a family owned establishment since 1914 was proud of his driver’s fine work and public service. “Neil has a good heart and these kids are very special to him,” Mr. Perlman said. “Most drivers don’t interact with their passengers, they just do their job, but Neil takes it above and beyond that.”
Neil takes the kids on special excursions that have brought smiles to their faces and joy to their hearts. He frequently stops off for special treats like ice-cream or McDonalds and even brings them little presents as his token of affection. “When some of these kids get out of surgery or have a bad day, Neil is always there to cheer them up and make them feel better,” Mr. Perlman added.
The black minivan Neil drives is equipped with a DVD player and Neil finds joy in entertaining the kids through cartoons, movies and music. Neil has become so popular and the children have reciprocated the affection as they specifically request him as their driver.
Aside from his kind nature and sensitivity, Neil pays special attention to ensuring safety while transporting children with special needs. Neil never forgets the impact one mistake can have on a child’s life and he strives to fulfill his duty while the kids are in his care. Most importantly, Neil always considers a child’s individual needs. “All my drivers are taught safety first and it really takes a specific type of driver to transport the kids of St. Mary’s because these aren’t ordinary kids, these are extraordinary kids that make your heart strings speed up,” he said. “We’ve been supporting St. Mary’s for more than 12 years and my drivers, my dispatchers and everyone at Kelly’s has learned to appreciate life and value the strength of the children at St. Mary’s,”
10 year old Kevin Smith is one of these extraordinary kids and he requires a special harness which straps him to the seat of the car laying flat. Kevin’s family couldn’t agree more with the prestigious honor endowed upon Neil. Kevin’s family has been working with Kelly’s for over 6 years and their experiences are followed by a tone of admiration and gratitude.
“The drivers always make sure Kevin’s comfortable and strapped in securely and they accommodate our every need whether it be running errands or transporting Kevin’s medical equipment,” said Debbie McGuinness, Kevin’s aunt who spends her days beside her nephew’s hospital bed. At the tender age of 4 months old, Kevin stopped breathing and was left without oxygen for 10 minutes causing severe brain damage leaving him in a vegetative state. Doctors have allowed Debbie to take Kevin home on the weekends and Kelly’s drivers have become a system of support for the family. “They are always prepared for us and the drivers are always concerned about Kevin’s well-being. They really make it an easy process for us,” Debbie said.