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First Steps

March 2, 2018


The first time Mary called her voice was polite and friendly, tentative and wary.  She wondered

if the FAMS Call Center could help her with her transportation request.  She needed to get to work that very night.  We wanted to help her, yet because of several challenges, were unable to.  Our call center serves a rural region.  Limited resources and significant distances can create barriers to transportation out in the country.


In rural areas, we can accommodate planning and plodding, but not "immediate."  You can hear it in our speech patterns sometimes.  We keep moving forward, we keep improving, but slowly and methodically.  Like the tortoise, we will get there, we hope to get you there, so we keep planning.


That first time on the phone, she said good-bye to me so calmly, and thought she had hung up the phone.  I heard a venting of frustration from the other end of the line that was not intended for my ears, but I felt her disappointment.  I was disappointed too.  How could a few miles be so daunting?  How could we say in this amazing time we live in that “you can’t get there from here, not right now any way.”


I called her back the next day determined to do what we did well, “plan.”  “What trips do you have coming up?  When do you need to go?  Have you ridden public transportation?  How are you getting to work now?  Walking?  All that way, sometimes in the dark? Yesterday was 100 degrees. You walked?  During the day? You are 62?”


Little by little, together, we planned.  Mary took the bus.  She was chauffeured by amazing volunteer drivers.  She even used a few vouchers, and when she had to work late, used her own initiative to find  a friend who could drive her when a volunteer couldn’t.  She used every resource.  She landed a job and got a ride to training.  She went to DARS and took classes.  She went to job fairs, medical appointments, dental appointments, and to her new job at a fast food restaurant.


“I really want to work at a desk in customer service,” she told me.  She would be a great customer service agent!  She is patient and kind, and persev