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A family brought closer through Tae Kwon Do

Monday, September 14, 2020

Categories: Blog, Employees

Dan pictured with his wife and two daughters

Dan pictured with his wife and two daughtersA family that does Tae Kwon Do together stays together. That’s how the saying goes, right?

For CATA IT Director Dan Goodemoot, this has been exactly right. When his two daughters were young, he and his wife began looking for an activity they could all do together.

With his daughters in dance at the time, Goodemoot knew he would need to find an activity that appealed to the grace and strength found in dance, but with the comradery and family atmosphere that he was seeking. This is when he and his family discovered Tae Kwon Do.  “We found this small group that was training a few miles away from us and went, it was a small class at the time [...] so our whole family joined!” Goodemoot said.

Little did they know at the time of the their first class, this would be a sport they would enjoy and excel at for years to come. Goodemoot and his wife have recently been awarded their third-degree black belts, with his daughters following their parent's lead closely, both obtaining second degree black belts. In his advanced training, Goodemoot has studied the history of Tae Kwon Do, spent countless hours learning forms and even learning to break through both pine and concrete boards! Photo of Dan breaking concrete blocks

“Concrete is usually saved for just before black belt, we have someone break one, as you get further on in training, you break more and more. My last testing, I had 10 lined up and I broke 9 of them,” Goodemoot said.

Since the onset of COVID-19, many gyms have had to close their doors. The Goodemoot’s Tae Kwan Do gym made the innovative decision to take things outside, utilizing a small lawn next to their building to allow athletes to practice.

“We worked out outside and made sure we socially distanced away from each other, it was nice that we could still work together as families because we had been in contact with each other already” Goodemoot explained.

The Goodemoot family has come a long way since day one of class, and they have no plans on ending their training any time soon. Goodemoot currently instructs younger classes teaching basic forms and self-defense skills while also continuing his work toward a third-degree black belt. 

“I have been responsible for a lot of the final stage training for the colored belts — non-black belt students — so watching them, and specifically my daughters go through and get their black belts, has been a very proud moment for me,” he concluded.

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The Nationwide #SoundTheHorn Campaign

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Categories: Blog, Community, Employees

Traffic lights and cars on Michigan Ave

On the road, horn honks are typically used to alert other drivers or pedestrians. Today, they will be used to say two words: thank you.

At 3 p.m., our operators will honk their horns twice in solidarity with transportation workers nationwide as part of the #SoundTheHorn campaign.

“We proudly sound our horn today in honor of transit workers the world over who are doing their part to contain this tragic pandemic,” said CATA CEO Bradley T. Funkhouser. CATA participated in the original campaign on April 16 and again on May 21.

Operators will sound the horn once to thank healthcare professionals, grocery store clerks, first responders, gas station employees, and other heroes who are performing critically essential work during COVID-19. They will sound the horn a second time to thank transportation workers nationwide for getting these essential workers where they need to go.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the dedication and commitment of our own essential workforce has been nothing short of heroic,” Funkhouser said. “Our call takers have fielded tens of thousands of calls. Our operators, mechanics, utilities and facilities personnel are working together to fulfill life-sustaining and medically necessary trips, as well as trips to get critical-infrastructure employees to work, often at great personal risk.”

Searching for your own ways to thank essential workers and spread positivity during COVID-19? Check out a few ideas here.

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A Heart for Service

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Categories: Blog, Employees

Employee Margaret Stephens stands in front of the CATA Transportation Center

Margaret Stephens loves being the customer experience manager at CATA.

“I make sure our customer service representatives treat all CATA customers with respect and provide an excellent experience for them,” she said. “We want to treat each customer with dignity and get them where they need to go. It’s corny, but I’m one of those people who really loves my job.”

It’s not corny at all, especially considering the unusual path that brought Margaret to CATA.

Margaret grew up in Toledo, Ohio, and, due to a family situation, was homeless for the last half of her senior year in high school.

“If there was one thing I’d do differently it would be to go to college right out of high school, but I couldn’t wrap my mind around where I was going to sleep the next day, let alone go to college.”

The mother of a childhood friend let Margaret move in, with the understanding that she’d move out upon graduation.

“I took the city bus to my high school graduation, walked across the stage, got my diploma and took the bus back to their home,” she said. “I knew I needed to find a new place to stay, and I needed to get a job.”

Donna, another close family friend, took her in. Donna’s husband, Junior, owned an electrical contracting company – the first black-owned business of its kind in Ohio.

“Junior gave me my first job,” she said. “He paid me $200 a week, and he made me learn everything there was to learn about doing business. Payroll, reading blueprints, being on time to work.

“In a way, that was my college. There was so much he taught me in the two years I worked there that I knew for the rest of my life I was going to be OK.”

Margaret moved to Michigan, taking a job with Michigan Bell. Through the company’s tuition-reimbursement program, she went to the Detroit College of Business, then Washtenaw Community College, and ultimately earned her bachelor’s in business administration from Eastern Michigan University.

“In those college classes, they covered so much of what Junior prepared me for,” Margaret said. “All those classes made sense – even English, because Junior made sure everything that left his office was professional and grammatically correct.”

When she turned 50, Margaret told her family and friends that she wanted to work with the public. “Without community outreach organizations throughout my life, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” she said.

Serendipitously, a recruiter contacted her about a customer experience job with CATA.

“Right away I said, ‘Yes, set me up for an interview,’” she said.Margaret posing with CATA Director of Marketing & Customer Experience Lolo RobisonToday, Margaret is stationed in the CATA Transportation Center, helping people get where they need to go. Junior has since passed away, but their families have remained good friends through the years.

“I didn’t realize it until recently the impact he had on my life,” Margaret said.

She said she enjoys working with younger people who are starting out on their own life journey at CATA.

“I want to be able to influence them the way Junior influenced me.”

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