Serving the Community in New Ways
Paratransit van operator Anjie Hughes has a friendly and genuine communication style that helps her customers feel understood and valued. That’s especially important now, as they struggle to cope with new hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I try to find the best way to connect with each customer,” Hughes said. “That way I know what they need to have a positive experience on their van trip.”
Interacting with customers is Hughes’ favorite part of the job and opportunities to do so haven’t diminished, even if paratransit ridership has. Although virus concerns and government mandates have kept many ADA-eligible customers home, Hughes and her fellow van operators have adopted unique new ways to continue providing essential services in their community.
During the course of their visits, Hughes notes any special requests which are later reported back to MOW. She also conducts welfare checks by watching for any behaviors or actions that may indicate that someone needs additional care or medical attention.
“STA’s partnership with Meals on Wheels is great for everyone,” Hughes said. “Most people don’t realize how much MOW does for the less fortunate in our region. I find it’s very rewarding to supply hot and frozen meals, as well as fresh produce and pet food, to those in need. We even deliver fans to clients when it starts getting too hot out.”
Another new STA program that Hughes is fond of is “Rides for Seniors”. She enjoys conversing with her elderly customers while getting them to jobs, medical appointments, grocery stores and other essential destinations.
“I love this program! It’s allowing us to provide transportation for seniors when they need it most,” Hughes said. “These customers appreciate that we thoroughly disinfect the vans between rides to make them as safe as possible. Plus, it’s a great deal – personal, door-to-door transportation for just $2.00 each way.”
As long as the health crisis lingers, Hughes will be masking up to help all her customers and the community in any way she can.
“I’m excited to get up in the morning and come to work,” she said. “It puts a smile on my face to know that I’m providing essential services that people truly need. I’m healthy, I’m here, and I feel lucky to be able to help.”
Delivering for Meals on Wheels (MOW) is one such a venture that Hughes greatly enjoys. Two or three times a week, she teams up with another van operator to deliver meals and other necessities to Spokane’s most vulnerable citizens, some of which rarely leave home.