When Kathleen Brink became disabled due to seizures 3 years ago, her world fell apart. Her doctor would no longer allow her to drive, she lost her job as a mortgage underwriter and she was in the middle of an ugly divorce and custody battle for her son and daughter, ages five and nine. She had no idea how she was going to get the kids back and forth to school or do the simple things she had always taken for granted like grocery shopping or running errands. One day she was sitting in the law office, crying and feeling completely helpless, when her lawyer pointed out that she did have another option. She could ride the bus.
Kathleen had never ridden a bus before. She’d had her own car since she was 16-years old, and the prospect of relying on public transit for everything she needed felt impossible and overwhelming. Still, she managed to push aside her anxiety to research the Omnitrans routes she needed and to work out a schedule.
“At first the kids were mortified to be going to school on a public bus,” laughed Kathleen. “This was a whole new experience for them. Now it’s like being a part of a little family. We know all the regular riders, and we all look out for each other. Paul, our driver, is a great guy and always watches after the kids. In a few more years my oldest starts high school and she’s really looking forward to taking the Omnitrans bus to school with her friends. It’s evidently the cool kid thing to do!”
Now Kathleen and her family take the bus and train wherever they need to go. There’s no car payment, no gas tank to fill, no insurance fees to worry about, and she likes not having to battle the traffic. Her life has changed in other ways as well.
“This was a lifestyle that was forced on me, but I decided early on to just embrace it and make it work,” said Kathleen. “During my first year of riding the bus, I lost 100 pounds. I was walking and getting out more and living healthier. It really made me see the world differently. I was never a big ‘green’ person before, but it actually felt good to know I had lessened my footprint on the earth. Now I’ve even taken it a step further and gone vegetarian!”
She added, “I love Omnitrans. Without you guys, I would have lost custody of my kids and would never have been able to maintain my independence. I’m healthier and more active than I was before. I‘ve also gotten to know our little group of regular riders and feel more connected to my community. You’ve made it possible for us to enjoy life in ways we never would have imagined.”
–Juno Kughler Carlson
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