United Way of Central Maryland needs $35,000 to replace its neighborhood bus. The nonprofit is still about $10,000 short.
The bus, which provides safe, free transportation for 18 families in Baltimore City, has broken down. Student-parents at Ben Franklin High School use the bus to get to school each day and learn alongside their children.
United Way’s on-site Family Center provides child care and education.
“Before having a bus service, some students traveled more than two hours on the MTA with their child and everything needed for the school day,” United Way notes on its bus fund donation page.
The bus is also a lifeline to the community through United Way’s Neighborhood Zone. It connects neighbors with critical resources such as food and house supplies.
It also provides job opportunities. Paul Highfield shared with United Way how becoming the Neighborhood Zone’s bus driver helped him get back on his feet.
“In 2013, my family and I were going through some really hard times. Being 63, no one wanted to hire me. I wasn’t working a regular job. I was about to lose my house. The utilities were turned off … they were pretty hard times,” he says.
After participating in 10-12 programs through United Way, including essential needs such as health, nutrition, finances, job assistance, he saw an opportunity.
“Up at Ben Franklin High School, they were starting the Family Center, and I said, ‘I’ll be your janitor. I’ll do whatever you need me to do.’ They needed a bus driver to bring the students and their kids to school—turned out to be a great job,” he says.
To donate to United Way of Central Maryland’s bus fund, visit unitedtoact.org/unitedwaycentralmd/help-us-provide-safe-transportation-to-school.