Bus and shuttle drivers in San Francisco often go unnoticed. In the hustle of our busy lives, we don’t even acknowledge those who get us where we need to go. But there’s a unique set of drivers in San Francisco who deserve special praise. The van drivers of On Lok (link is external)are tasked with safely transporting seniors through the city’s busy streets, winding roads and scary hills to medical appointments, meals and social activities as participants in the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE®).

September is National PACE Month. This year’s theme is “Delivering Independence,” celebrating the role of PACE drivers in promoting independence for seniors.

Daniel Huang has been driving an On Lok van for more than 30 years in San Francisco, since immigrating from Guangzhou, China. Now a lead driver at On Lok, Huang takes a great deal of pride in helping seniors get around the city.

“It takes a lot of heart, mindfulness and soul to work with the On Lok participants,” he said. “I represent the On Lok community – an image that is dear to me.”

Huang, who has missed only one day of work over the past three decades, is often the first and last person many seniors see and interact with during their day. He connects with family members to get detailed instructions on how to care for their loved ones and conveys necessary information to the various On Lok centers where he brings his passengers.

He doesn’t hesitate to go the extra mile. He assists those with mobility issues from their front door to the shuttle and delivers meals or forgotten medications when needed. Huang even carries a 250-pound man up and down three flights of stairs because he is unable to walk and his building has no elevator access.