Lawyer helps homeless with Omnitrans bus passes

Criminal Defense Attorney Traci Childers

When Traci Childers stopped by the Omnitrans office today to ask about bus passes, there was something about her that immediately intrigued us. She explained that she was a criminal defense attorney and graciously sat down with me to share her story.

“I’m Christian,” smiles Traci, “Every day I say: ‘God, I get so busy with my court schedule and so forth, that I need to do something for you. Show me what I can do for you.”

Soft fleece blankets are always needed, as well as warm socks and gloves.

“As it happened this particular day I was in my car, praying as I do, asking Him to take me through each step of my day. I was on my way to court, but I couldn’t find a single parking place in any of the lots around the San Bernardino courthouse. Finally I saw a car pulling out of this little alcove, and I pulled in. Then I noticed all these people who had set up these little homes there. They were actually small tents and stuff, but I call them little homes because that’s what they are.  And they were perfectly situated like a little community by the wash. I felt guided here. This wasn’t threatening, it wasn’t dangerous, and it wasn’t nighttime”

“I got out of the car and said ‘Hey, excuse me.’ and three of the people walked over to me. I explained I had some things in the back of my car and wondered if they could use any of them.’”

“They nodded, ‘Yeah, yeah, definitely.’”

“You see, I tithe 10% of my income. But instead of giving to a church, because I don’t belong to a church, I put it aside into what I call my “God Fund.” And so that’s God’s money. I ask Him what I need to spend it on. I would go to the 99 cents store near my house and put together these little packages of things for the homeless. I’d pack gloves, socks, scarves, underwear, soap, and toiletries into insulated lunch bags and carry them in the back of my car. I felt blessed to be in a position to give.”

This care package for a woman includes toiletries, soap, lotion and soft slippers.

Traci paused and looked thoughtful. “You know, sometimes all of our good intentions just stay in our heads, and we need to get out in the community and do things. I always think about the homeless people and for all the times I think about it, I don’t always act on it. I would see homeless people at the side of the road all the time, but it often wasn’t convenient to stop. I’d have to park very far away and walk. And some of them were crazy and just wanted money or booze. These people by the courthouse were different.”

“I’d been praying, asking God help me find people who could use these things that I had gathered and here they were. The answer had come. The three men told me their names said there were about 20 people living there. They said they could really use men’s underwear, which I happened to have. They also explained that they really needed bus passes.”

This pillow was a giveaway Traci had received. Even small items like this can be a good care package addition.

“I could see they were clean, they were well-organized for what they had there, and it seemed like they helped each other. It was a community. It might not be the same community we would consider, but was a community nonetheless. And that’s what I’m looking for, because I believe in giving people a leg up. The fact that they wanted to take the bus to go somewhere and do something versus wandering on the street and hanging out at the liquor store says something to me.”

“You know I never would have thought about bus passes—ever. I just think about taking care of their basic needs. I knew they probably needed soap, toiletries, water and food. But I never thought about the importance of bus passes until they told me. So that’s why I came here today, to pick up bus passes and bus books to give to them.”

I asked Traci if she could show me some of the packages in her car and let me take her photo. She agreed accommodatingly, thinking it might inspire others to pay it forward. Her relaxed, friendly manner made it easy to understand why strangers would trust her and open up to her.

One of the men in the homeless community was too thin for regular men’s underclothing to fit. She put together a special package of items for him in his size.

She laughed.  “I don’t know. Maybe it’s the fact that God made me Italian. You know we love to talk to everyone. I just have always wanted to treat people the way I want to be treated. Even with my clients, I want them to feel that they are important and given respect. Some attorneys can have attitudes.  ‘They’ll say, don’t worry, I’ll take care of your case, goodbye.’ I explain what I would like to do and ask them what they think about that plan. It’s their case, you know? I can advise them, but only they know what they need.  Just like I can give homeless people whatever I think is helpful, but when they tell me what they really need—this is a great thing. It gives me purpose, to give something of real value rather than just something I want to give.”

Have you ever paid it forward to someone by gifting them with a bus pass? Tell us your story!

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Fabulous Third Thursday Food Fest

The Third Thursday Food Fest is always a great excuse to leave the office and enjoy mouth-watering food offered by some of the area’s most delicious food trucks.

Some San Bernardino foodies relaxed with friends under the shade trees while others danced to live jazz music from Richardson Prep HI.

After lunch, many spent time browsing the gift booths. Local vendors offered everything from handmade soaps and crystal sun catchers to Tupperware and Pampered Chef.

Savvy transit riders avoided parking hassles by taking advantage of the nearby sbX rapid transit line to get to the event.

We got big smiles and an enthusiastic thumbs up from these three sbX riders who were getting ready to board.

Be sure to add the Third Thursday Food Fest to your calendar as a must-do lunchtime event. The next one will be held on February 19th. See you there!

Buses on regular schedule Martin Luther King Day

Omnitrans buses will be running as scheduled and our administrative offices will maintain regular hours on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 19th.

Omnitrans Vet Fare Kickoff A Success

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In appreciation for the contributions of the men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces, Omnitrans introduced a discount fare for US military veterans on January 5, 2015.

“It’s our way of saying thanks to those who have served to protect our freedom,” said Omnitrans CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham, himself a veteran of the US Marine Corps. Approximately 79,000 veterans reside in the Omnitrans service area of the San Bernardino Valley.

P. Scott Graham, Omnitrans CEO

A kickoff event was held at the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center in Loma Linda, California. Representatives of Omnitrans, its Board of Directors, the VA Healthcare system, 211-Vetlink, and San Bernardino County Veterans Affairs all hailed the new discount fare as a well-deserved benefit for those who served in the armed forces.

Osvaldo Maysonet, Veterans Specialist at 211-Vetlink and former Marine sergeant who served in the Iraq war, is credited with leading the charge to get Omnitrans and several neighboring transit agencies to implement a veteran discount. “This will have a big impact on affordability for our veterans,” Maysonet said. “We have many vets in San Bernardino County who are dealing with low income or no income. Access to affordable transportation will connect them with education, healthcare and employment opportunities and possibly help them to become taxpayers again.”

Osvaldo Maysonet, Veterans Specialist at 211-Vetlink

At the kickoff event, Omnitrans donated 500 veterans 1-day bus passes to VA Healthcare system programs. Veteran resources were on site to offer assistance and information. San Bernardino County Veterans Affairs issued nearly 100 free photo ID cards for veterans. The IDs verify eligibility for the new bus fares and can be used to earn discounts at other “veteran-friendly” businesses in the county.

The veteran fare provides a 50% discount on fixed route bus fares and passes to US retired military personnel with ID. This includes those who served in the US Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy. Additionally, Omnitrans introduced free rides for uniformed active duty military members, police and firefighters.

Omnitrans Veterans Fare Kickoff Event

Join us on Monday, January 5th
at the front entrance of the VA Hospital in Loma Linda
Ceremony 2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.    |    Info Fair   2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.


 Free Omnitrans Bus Passes and Prize Drawing
Stop by the Omnitrans table with your San Bernardino County Military Veteran ID to get a FREE 1-Day Bus Pass and enter a drawing for a 31-Day Bus Pass.

 

Free County of San Bernardino County Military Veteran ID Cards 
Veterans may obtain a free County of San Bernardino Military Veterans ID during the Information Fair between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. All Veterans with this ID card will be eligible for the discounted bus fare from Omnitrans.



Discounted veterans fare
In appreciation of the men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces, Omnitrans is honored to offer veterans discounted bus passes for 50% less than the full fare.

Active duty military
Active duty military personnel may ride Omnitrans buses for free. They must wear the appropriate uniform at the time of boarding and present a valid U.S. Unformed Services ID card indicating active service or a Common Access card indicating uniformed services or active duty.

Please note: Veterans and Active Duty fares exclude Access ADA curb-to-curb service.

Preparing for a coach operator career

Whenever a coach operator job position opens at Omnitrans, our HR Department receives hundreds of applications. How will you stand out?

Each time an Omnitrans  coach operator position is advertised, our HR Department receives hundreds of applications.  Yet only about 8% make it through the hiring process.

Surprisingly, most are immediately eliminated for one simple reason. They failed to fully complete the application. Others are weeded out during personal interviews for lack of professionalism. 

“Personal appearance, business etiquette and strong interview skills are absolutely critical for success in today’s competitive job market,” points out author and career coach Patricia Dorch.

Bridge Program instructors Patricia Dorch and Henry Shields

That’s where the Bridge Program comes in. The free 5-day workforce development program is facilitated by Dorch and co-instructor Henry Shields, a former Omnitrans Fleet Safety & Training Supervisor.  Together, they introduce job seekers to potential new careers as public transit coach operators. They also prepare participants for the application and interview process, teaching them how to make a great first impression and brand themselves for success.

“Every single day we were challenged,”says Bridge Program graduate Karena Rojas. ” We created portfolios,  covered everything you can think of in the interview process, and learned skills specific to the job of a coach operator. Everyone who graduated the program with me was happy to be a part of it. It boosted everyone’s confidence, so much so that we are all looking harder for jobs and feel surer of ourselves in obtaining one.”

Are you ready for a new career this year? Bridge Program classes are continuing at the Omnitrans San Bernardino office through January. Space is limited. Click here to sign up today.

E St. voted Best Urban Street Transformation

This month, San Bernardino’s E Street was voted “Best Urban Street Transformation of 2014″ on StreestsBlog USA. It was one of five streets nominated in the national Streetsie award competition and garnered an overwhelming 48% of the vote.

There is a lot to be proud of: dedicated bus lanes, beautiful landscaping, and sbX BRT stations with original art whose themes share the rich histories of our local communities. Ongoing events like the weekly Downtown San Bernardino Farmshare and Market and the monthly Third Thursday Food Fest (located by the E Street Civic Center Station) feature local farmers, vendors and food trucks to attract the city’s lunch crowd.

E Street has not simply molded the landscape of our city. It has created a renewed sense of civic pride as evidenced by the grass roots efforts of residents who rallied the community to vote in a show of support.

This New Year’s Eve, we are proud to celebrate the transformation of E Street and look forward to continued positive changes in 2015.

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Handling returns & holiday sales by bus

Guest article written by Connie Jones, blogger for So I’m Legally Blind

Blogger Connie Jones from “So I’m Legally Blind”

If you’re visually-impaired like I am, getting from place to place can be quite an undertaking, especially after the holiday season. Seriously! Most people have a few gifts to return and sales to catch, and that is not the easiest thing to do when you use public transit. All those bags! First, you have to get up the steps to pay for your ticket. What an ordeal of dropped bags, apologies to the driver for not having the exact change at the ready and if you weigh more than 100 lbs, yikes! Then you make the turn to find a seat, and so it begins. You apologize profusely to the other passengers as you bump into them with your bags, you search for two empty seats, one for you and one for the bags, all the while avoiding the eyes of the other passengers who are looking away from you as if to say, please don’t sit by me!

You’ve just gotta laugh! If you don’t have a good sense of humor and patience, it can get very frustrating. I’ve been through this before. Oh, I had big plans, made the list of things I needed to return, stores to return to or buy something on sale, the directions, etc. The first few bags aren’t so bad, people are very nice, accommodating, move out of your way. It’s when you begin to look like a pack mule, a Sherpa, that things begin to go entertainingly (for the other passengers) downhill. You either drop something, get stuck between the walkway with passengers or you can’t seem to get all of your bags around you as you sit down.

Personally, I didn’t like annoying my fellow passengers, doesn’t make for good karma. Although, most people could appreciate my dilemma; between carrying my school bags, and shopping bags with gifts to return, it could get pretty comical. Even during the holidays when people try to show more patience and kindness, that doesn’t mean people want all of your things spread around them and taking up their space. For me, the best way to go about my holiday returns was to break it down like a military operation. I’d do a little bit each week or on my way here or there and before you knew it, I was done. Now, I can get it all done so much faster because of the new sbX, the Access bus and other public transit options that I didn’t have before.

VA Medical Center Hosts Omnitrans Veterans Fare Kickoff

A new Omnitrans bus wrap will be on display at the event. It honors those who have served and introduces the launch of the agency’s discounted fare for veterans.

The VA Loma Linda Healthcare System will host an event designed to introduce Omnitran’s new discounted fare for Veterans on Monday, January 5 2015. A ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. followed by an information fair from 2 p.m to 4 pm.

The “Omnitrans Veterans Fare Kickoff” will be held at the main entrance of the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center.

Representatives of Omnitrans Board of Directors, a co-organizer of the event will be on hand. The County will be providing free ID Cards for Veterans during the event.

For more information, contact Wendy Williams of Omnitrans at 909-379-7151, Jim Rich of VA Loma Linda Medical Center at (909) 583-6193 or visit www.omnitrans.org.

Omnitrans Marketing Manager Nicole Ramos & Buster the Bus with display art featuring the new Veterans fare which takes effect January 5th.

The Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center is the centerpiece of the VA Loma Linda Healthcare System.  Opened in 1977, it is located ½ mile from its major affiliate, Loma Linda University.  VA also provides primary care and mental health at outpatient clinics located in Blythe, Corona, Palm Desert, Murrieta, Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville.

Founded in 1976, Omnitrans is the public transit agency providing 50,000 passenger trips each weekday in the San Bernardino Valley of Southern California.

 

Buses not in service New Years Day

Omnitrans offices will be closed, and buses will not be running on Thursday, January 1st.

Offices will reopen, and buses will return to normal service on Friday, January 2nd.

We wish you and  your family a safe, happy and prosperous New Year!

For all the latest Omni  info, including bus schedules, bus arrival times, Rider Alerts, special promotions, and no service holiday information, download the Omnitrans mobile app available in the App Store and Google Play.