FLINT — The Mass Transportation Authority of Flint and the United Way of Genesee County have partnered to grant the wishes of those in need of bus passes this holiday season.
Through the Emergency Bus Pass Program, the MTA and United Way will be giving away 13,000 bus passes to local charities and nonprofit agencies, who will then distribute the passes to their clients. A bulk of those passes will be given out during the holidays, with the MTA board and the United Way giving away 5,000 each.
“Transportation is always a significant concern for families and individuals,” said James Gaskin, CEO of the United Way of Genesee County. “Providing folks this gift of transportation through our partner agencies and organizations really helps remove barriers to them being successful in their own lives.”
Gaskin said that the bus passes will assist nonprofits in meeting the needs of their clients, whether it be access to fresh foods, shelter or medical appointments.
Altogether, seven charities and agencies were recipients of the bus passes, including: Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties, the Genesee County Salvation Army, the Shelter of Flint, Foster Grandparents, Eastside Compassionate Mission, Faith Foundation Resources and St. Luke’s New Life Center.
Joan Clarke, Director of Fund Development and Marketing for the Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties, said that the bus pass program will be an enormous help to her organization.
“We serve 185,000 meals per year to people and 300,000 items a year are given out through our community center,” she said. “If the clients can’t get to our facility, we can’t do the good work that we do. So we really appreciate the bus passes.”
Helping Young People Employment (HYPE), an employment program operated by Faith Foundation Resources, will be using the bus passes to help area students get to work and make it to job interviews.
“A lot of our students have the will to work but don’t have the means to get there consistently,” said Najee Miller, Program Director for HYPE. “With the bus passes…the kids will have a little more independence and can get around quicker to where they need to go.”
Entering its fourth year of operation, the Emergency Bus Program has been boosted by funding from Huntington Bank (via a special grant to the United Way) and individual donors who’ve helped to kick-start the campaign.
“We are sending out a challenge to the community to keep the pass program going, and we are hopeful that agencies, individuals, foundations and organizations will step up to help these people by donating,” said Ed Benning, CEO/ General Manager of the MTA. “The passes will help people in the community with accessing badly needed services.”
Persons or agencies interested in donating to the Emergency Bus Pass Program can go online to the United Way website at unitedwaygenesee.org/ donate. Agencies who wish to apply for the program should contact Mary Bishop at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.