Many retirees pick up hobbies or even part-time jobs to keep themselves busy once their careers come to an end, but Paul Goetchius chose an unconventional way to spend his time in his 60s and 70s. For the past eight years, the 76-year-old retired environmental toxicologist has helped low-income college students in New York get to school.
During the eight years, he has totaled over 64,000 miles while driving students to and from universities and colleges in New York. He has made sure that they get to and from school for holidays, spring and summer breaks, and other times.
For Paul, the scene of showing up at college to greet a smiling student with a backpack packed for winter break has become a common one, even though the kids that he’s taking to their homes aren’t his. During holiday seasons like the current one, it’s not uncommon for Paul to put 1,000 miles or more on his Chevy Tahoe to make sure college students can get home for break and back to school when it’s over.
He does more than just provide rides, too. He’ll also print out lists of restaurants along the routes he drives so that students can pick out where they’d like to eat. And when they stop, he always pays. “I don’t ask, I just tell them that’s what I do,” he says.
Paul is from Syracuse and though he avoids the traffic of New York City, he has driven as far as the University of Buffalo and Rochester Institute of Technology, which are both five-hour round trips.
“I just love driving, and I love these kids,” Paul says, noting that he often drives more than one student at a time, but prefers one in order to have a good conversation. “It’s such a blessing and a privilege to be a part of these kids’ lives, even just for a few hours, getting to know them and hearing their stories.”