Community Transit awarded 12 surplus vans to local nonprofit organizations at its board of directors meeting last week. These groups will use the vehicles to provide transportation support for people all throughout Snohomish County.
The Van GO program earmarks retired Community Transit vanpool vans or paratransit vehicles that are otherwise sent to surplus auction. The vans awarded this year will connect people in Snohomish County to legal services, allow kids to attend youth meetings and visit incarcerated parents, and help people grocery shop and visit a doctor, among other uses.
“The Van GO program helps community-based organizations with critical transportation needs,” said Community Transit CEO Ric Ilgenfritz. “By extending the life of these vehicles, this partnership extends the reach of non-profit groups serving people with diverse needs.”
This year, 42 nonprofit groups submitted applications. Recipients were chosen based on how they propose to use the vehicles to serve their communities.
This year’s 12 Van GO recipients are:
- Bethesda Lutheran Church (Mountlake Terrace)
- Evergreen Recovery Centers – LEAD Program (Everett)
- Faith Baptist Church (Arlington)
- The Foundation for Edmonds School District (Edmonds)
- Granite Falls Community Coalition (Granite Falls)
- Mari’s Place for the Arts (Everett)
- Mercy Watch (Mukilteo)
- Peoria Home (Everett)
- Project Girl Mentoring Program (Lynnwood)
- Stilly Valley Youth Dynamics (Arlington, Stanwood, Oso)
- Take the Next Step (Monroe)
- Vision Church (Everett)
Community Transit launched the Van GO program in 2000 and has awarded 170 vans and wheelchair lift-equipped paratransit vehicles to qualified 501(c)3 organizations. These organization primarily serve residents of the Community Transit service area throughout Snohomish County. This includes incorporated cities and towns in Snohomish County, as well as the Tulalip Reservation and portions of unincorporated Snohomish County. The Van GO concept has been duplicated by transit agencies in Washington State and throughout the country.
More information about the Van GO program is online www.communitytransit.org/vango.
The 2021 Van GO recipients attended the Jan. 3 Community Transit Board of Directors meeting to officially receive their award (see video at https://bit.ly/CTVanGO2021). Here is a brief description of the winning organizations:
Bethesda Lutheran Church
Bethesda Lutheran Church is committed to inclusivity, diversity, and equity. It currently partners with Girl Scouts of Western Washington, including the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program, the American Legion, and the Westway Korean Church. Bethesda Lutheran Church will utilize the Van GO vehicle to transport elders to medical appointments, transport homeless and those in crisis to resources and shelters, provide transportation for Girl Scout meetings and activities including transporting the girls to visit incarcerated parents, support the transportation needs of neighboring interfaith communities, and provide transportation to veterans by working with the American Legion.
Evergreen Recovery Centers – LEAD Program
Evergreen Recovery Centers operates Snohomish County’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. This program is designed to divert those suspected of low-level criminal offenses away from jail and prosecution and into case management, legal coordination, and other supportive services. Evergreen Recovery Centers will utilize the Van GO vehicle to transport clients to medical and behavioral appointments, employer services, short- and long-term housing, COVID vaccinations and testing, as well as other necessary trips to help their clients establish stability in their lives.
Faith Baptist Church
Faith Baptist Church, located in Arlington, provides no-cost child care to low-income families in north Snohomish County during the work week. Faith Baptist Church will utilize its Van GO vehicle to provide transportation to and from child care during the week, transport volunteers and goods to provide food deliveries to the community, and offer Sunday transportation to church for elder and disabled members.
The Foundation for Edmonds School District
The Foundation for Edmonds School District operates the Work Experiences and Assessment program which provides vocational assessment and work experience opportunities for high school students with disabilities. Many of these students will be reliant on public transportation in their future, so the foundation also provides public transportation training by helping students practice riding the bus to and from appointments and community outings. The Foundation for Edmonds School District will utilize its Van GO vehicle by offering transportation support to students riding the bus as well as transporting students to job sites, educational tours of libraries and civic centers, shopping trips, and community service work.
Granite Falls Community Coalition
The Granite Falls Community Coalition currently operates a busy food bank with two distribution sites, a backpack program for food insecure children, and provides prevention education to families and community members in relation to substance abuse, equity, mental health, and well-being. The Granite Falls Community Coalition will utilize its Van GO vehicle by providing transportation to clients to and from weekly food bank services, transporting students to coalition-sponsored morning and afternoon activities on non-school days, providing summer field trips for recreational activities, and transporting volunteers to touch base with students reaching out for support after school hours and on weekends.
Mari’s Place for the Arts
Mari’s Place for the Arts provides youth with a safe and encouraging environment where they can explore and develop their abilities in a variety of arts-based programming. Primarily serving Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), and disabled youth from low-income families within Snohomish County, Mari’s Place for the Arts enriches the lives of children by providing the opportunity to express themselves through painting, writing, dancing, drawing, and playing musical instruments. Mari’s Place will utilize its Van GO vehicle to transport students to and from weekday classes and their summer program, as well as transport staff to daycares, dance halls, and community centers to teach classes.
Mercy Watch provides basic street medical care, emotional and spiritual support, and needed supplies to homeless men, women, and children living in Snohomish County. Mercy Watch operates an approved free medical clinic and partners with the WSU medical residency program to bring health care opportunities to those living unsheltered. Mercy Watch will utilize its Van GO vehicle to provide transportation to medical appointments, transport clients needing more advanced care to walk-in clinics and emergency care, as well as transporting medical volunteers to homeless encampments and shelters to provide COVID vaccinations and medical treatment.
Peoria Home supports women survivors of trafficking and addiction by providing two years of case management that includes rent-free housing, medical & mental health support, life-skills & vocational education support, job training and employment. Peoria Home will utilize its Van GO vehicle by providing residents with transportation to and from intensive outpatient programs, grocery shopping, medical/dental appointments, and community and educational outings.
Project Girl Mentoring Program
Project Girl Mentoring Program is dedicated to fostering the advancement of young women of color to make positive life choices and to maximize their authentic potential. Project Girl Mentoring Program serves young girls of color, Indigenous, and LGBTQI+, and other at-risk youth from low-income families with limited resources by providing free programs centered around health and wellness. Project Girl Mentoring Program will utilize its Van GO vehicle to create a more equitable space and provide transportation to and from their community program events, field trips, and support their nutrition program.
Stilly Valley Youth Dynamics
Stilly Valley Youth Dynamics partners with the Arlington, Stanwood-Camano, Lakewood, and Darrington school districts to offer support to students and families through three drop-in centers. The group also partners with local service organizations, businesses, and churches to coordinate efforts to help students find jobs and resources needed for a safe and successful life. Stilly Valley Youth Dynamics will utilize its Van GO vehicle to provide transportation to and from school to drop-in centers, transport students to appointments and shopping, rock club, and summer adventure days.
Stilly Valley Youth Dynamics will also provide transportation for extended trips over spring break and summer.
Take the Next Step
Take the Next Step is a faith-based nonprofit whose mission is to offer friendship, help, and hope to neighbors in need through programs like its Community Resource Center, Kidz Club, Student Leaders after-school programs, community dinners, Life Skills Classes, Teen Mom Support group, and more. Take the Next Step will utilize its Van GO vehicle by providing transportation to and from schools for after-school programs, transport volunteers to their programs, and provide field trips for youth summer camps and activities.
Vision Church serves residents throughout Snohomish County who are homeless and extremely low income who live with circumstances surrounding substance abuse, mental health, and domestic violence. Vision Church operates a resource center that provides basic social services, employment services, and recovery coaching. Vision Church will utilize its Van GO vehicle to provide transportation for clients to medical, legal, and recovery meetings, provide transportation to Sunday faith services, and transport children to and from summer programs.