SamTrans, which has been taking people where they need to go in San Mateo County for more than 35 years, has a legacy of giving back to the community, both at the agency level and as individuals. Simply put, supporting the community that supports us is the right thing to do.
According to a 2009 SamTrans customer survey, 64 percent of SamTrans riders have no access to a car, more than 40 percent have an annual household income of less than $25,000 and 21 percent are eligible to travel on a discounted senior or disabled transit pass.
When you cut through all of the data, what emerges is a clear picture that among our SamTrans riders are people in our community for whom public transportation is the lifeline to medical care, housing services, food assistance and even shelter.
The pride SamTrans takes in providing a safe, affordable transit service in this community is matched only by its commitment to contributing in other ways.
According to an independent survey, for 22 percent of homeless people, a major barrier to employment is the lack of affordable transportation. SamTrans helps bridge this gap by providing free bus tickets for qualifying residents of Safe Harbor homeless shelter. The shelter, which provides beds for 90 adults, is located on SamTrans’ property, adjacent to the bus agency’s South San Francisco maintenance and operations facility. The shelter also is served by SamTrans Route 38, which allows residents to keep appointments, look for employment and access county services.
For SamTrans employees, getting involved in local charities is a win-win-win – it’s fun, it allows us to connect on a different level with the people we serve and we find new ways to be of further service to the people who depend on us.
SamTrans is an “active” participant in the American Heart Association’s annual Heart Walk. Held in Redwood Shores, employees solicit donations from friends and family for the 5K walk. The event also raises awareness among employees about the importance of following a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Last year, SamTrans employees raised more than $52,000 to help prevent heart disease, more than any other employer in San Mateo County.
SamTrans employees also participate in the annual campaign to raise funds for United Way of the Bay Area. From bake sales to collecting recyclable cans and bottles, employees enjoy coming up with innovate ways to raise money. SamTrans supports their efforts by offering a payroll deduction plan for those who want to make a contribution. Last year, SamTrans employees raised $50,000 for United Way programs.
In December, many SamTrans employees also volunteered to help out with the Caltrain Holiday Train, presented by Silicon Valley Community Foundation, passing out candy canes to excited children waiting for Santa at one of 10 Caltrain stations, helping to decorate the train in the weeks before the event and performing as costumed characters on the train.
The event, which marks the start of the holiday season for many Peninsula families, collected nearly 3,000 toys that were distributed to local children by The Salvation Army and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots program. SamTrans employees helped boost the toy count by donating toys at their work sites, in addition to donating their time to the successful event
A group of SamTrans employees also coordinated a Holiday Giving Tree. Working from a “wish list” provided by the San Mateo Parks and Recreation Department and the Shelter Network, employees purchased a gift for selected children. The gifts were wrapped by volunteers from the San Mateo Senior Center.
Other employees stepped up to help the San Mateo County Blue Star Moms send Christmas packages to soldiers overseas. They solicited donations for the “care packages” and helped pack the items for shipping.
A team of SamTrans employees raised more than $13,000 for the “Out of the Darkness” suicide awareness and prevention overnight walk. That event was particularly meaningful because SamTrans, also provides the administrative staff to the Caltrain system. Caltrain works with community members to promote education, awareness and prevention efforts for those considering suicide along the rail corridor.
Through all these efforts, SamTrans raised more than $115,000 in funds for its community, not to mention the countless toys, canned goods and care packages for those in need.
For SamTrans, positive change is not just about effective public transit it’s about making a positive change in the lives of our friends and neighbors.
For more information about SamTrans or Caltrain, visit our websites: www.samtrans.com or www.caltrain.com or like us on Facebook.com/SamTrans and Facebook.com/Caltrain and follow us on twitter @Samtrans_News and @Caltrain_News.