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 perseveres more than many people I have met. Mary is a natural problem solver. On top of that, she is likeable and caring. She continues to meet with her DARS counselor, and she is going to job fairs and classes. Even though she likes her current job, she has dreams of getting a higher paying job, owning her own car, and driving again. She admitted to tough times and bad choices in the past, but is refocused and using all of the tools her community has to offer to get to a place of independence and health.
The day I interviewed her, she had gotten a ride from a married couple who volunteer for Voltran. A tree in her neighborhood had fallen into the road after a storm. The volunteers got out of the car and moved a tree to get to her. She was so impressed that they had gone to all of that trouble just for her so that she could get to the dentist. She expressed gratitude for the FAMS Call Center. When she called that first time she thought, “I have to put my pride aside and take the first step.” Even though her first call didn’t work out, she said, “You didn’t know me and you called me back. You cared.”
Mary encourages you to take the first step and call for transportation. If you see Mary, ask her about her story. You will be inspired by her determination and resourcefulness!
Plan your appointments with us. Call us to see what services are available. You may be surprised at how much we can accomplish by planning and working together!