Hope’s Wheels to Work Programby Jessie Klein on December 7, 2015
Transportation is one of the biggest barriers to employment faced by people in poverty in our local community. Residents of Hope Ministries, and many others struggling to rebuild their lives, cannot buy a car because they don’t have the money, but cannot get the money because they can’t get to the jobs that would hire them. And public transportation does not reach many of our local employers, and does not provide service for most second and third shift and weekend jobs.
In the spring of this year Hope Ministries worked with a group of civic leaders to develop Wheels to Work, an innovative program designed to help break down transportation barriers. Wheels to Work raised funds to purchase a van, recruited volunteers to drive the van, and formed partnerships with a number of local employers looking for entry-level employees.
Wheels to Work started transporting residents to jobsites in May of this year. Currently five Hope residents are enrolled in the program, all of them employed at MAP of Easton in Granger. Clients pay $2 per ride to help cover the operating costs, and are also required to work closely with their Hope case manager to budget and save with a goal of purchasing their own vehicle within six months.
The five residents currently in the program are working full-time and earning a livable wage. They are saving money and will soon be able to obtain a vehicle of their own. None of this would have been possible without Wheels to Work.
Wheels to Work is also a benefit to employers. MAP of Easton had been struggling to find and retain entry level employees, in part because it is not accessible by public transportation. Wheels to Work is providing a new pool of potential employees to companies like MAP of Easton.
While Wheels to Work currently serves only residents living at Hope, the goal is to expand the program to provide transportation for more and more people in the community who are willing and able to work, but simply lack reliable transportation.
We are thankful for all the hard work that community leaders, local businesses and Hope Residents have put into making Wheels to Work a successful force in breaking down barriers to employment.