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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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Surprising Things You Can Check Out From Capital Area District Libraries

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Categories: Blog, Community, Employees

 
CATA CEO Brad Funkhouser and CADL Executive Director Scott Duimstra pose in front of bus
 
CATA champions community partnerships, and one of our treasured partnerships is with the Capital Area District Libraries. This library system in Ingham County has a special Library of Things, where adult cardholders can check out unique hands-on items.

Some of the unique materials you can check out from the Library of Things include:

1. A ghost hunting kit

Are there any spirits haunting Lansing? Scour the community for ghouls and ghosties with this five-piece kit:

  • Electromagnetic field meter
  • Spirit box
  • Digital voice recorder
  • UV flashlight
  • UV sunglasses

Click here for more details. Then hop on a Route 14 bus to the Turner-Dodge House to seek the ghost of Marion Turner or research these other local ghost stories. 

2. A sewing machine

Because making your own clothes and fabrics is sew cool (pun intended). Hone your skills with the Library of Thing’s Janome 525 sewing machine, which comes with too many accessories to list. 

3. Potter Park Zoo passes

CADL’s Library of Things also offers family passes to the Potter Park Zoo. One family pass provides free zoo admission for your household. The pass also covers parking!

Click here to learn more.

4. Banjos and ukeleles

It don’t mean a thang if it ain’t got that twang. These stringed instruments are just two of the many available to adult CADL cardholders. Browse the full list of instruments here. You may just find yourself taking home a guitar, keyboard, or otamatone for two weeks. 

5. A GoPro action kit

Use touch-screen and voice control features to capture HD footage on the GoPro HERO7 White camera. The camera is even waterproof up to 33 feet.

Click here to check out more camera features and all the accessories that come with the device.

6. Rokus pre-loaded with movies

What’s your favorite movie genre? The Library of Things likely has a Roku for it. A Roku plugs into your TV and allows you to stream CADL’s digital library of movies and shows.

Enjoy sci-fi, horror, comedy, drama, action films and more. Browse the full catalog of CADL Rokus here.

7. CATA 31-day fixed-route and 10-day rural service bus passes

We didn’t want to miss our chance to be part of the Library of Things! That’s why we teamed up with CADL to offer 31-day fixed-route and 10-ride rural service bus passes.

“I’m thrilled about our partnership with Capital Area District Libraries,” said our CEO Brad Funkhouser, “specifically about the opportunity to help raise awareness about CATA and CADL’s services.” 

“We both bring tremendous, immeasurable value to our communities,” Brad said. “This partnership is a unique way for us to demonstrate the true spirit of public service in action."

The passes have had an immediate impact on the local community.

In the short time they've been offered, the impact of having bus passes available in our Library of Things has been...

Posted by Capital Area District Libraries on Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Click here to browse the entire Library of Things collection. CADL is changing lives, fostering creativity and encouraging skill-building with this initiative. We're honored to play a role as a community partner.

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New CATA Bus Shelters Installed and Beautified through Community Partnerships

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Categories: Blog, Community

 

There are some things that just go together – like peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese or Jack and Diane.

But it’s not often people put together bus shelters and culture. 

A recent CATA initiative used this combination to steer community ownership, champion diversity and foster neighborhood pride. Six new bus shelters were installed at high-traffic stops to address community needs. We’re profiling two of these shelters that showcase the culture and diversity of area neighborhoods.

Both of these shelters were made possible through community partnerships and funding. CATA contributed funding toward each project, while the Sycamore Park Neighborhood Association and South Side Community Coalition each received a $3,000 Neighborhood Grant from the City of Lansing.Photo of blue bus shelter located on Pennsylvania Ave

Partnering with the Sycamore Park Neighborhood Association

The SPNA approached CATA to drive safety and inclusion in the area. Their local bus stop was moved just north of Baker Street to improve accessibility and safety. We provided the community options for a new shelter, and they voted on artwork submissions. Shelter designs and artwork were voted on by the public, who chose the shelter that currently stands.

Shelter artwork was provided by local artist Nate Gonzalez, and a solar light was installed at the location in January. The shelter highlights the adventurous, creative and resourceful dimensions of Sycamore Park. 
Working Together with the Southside Community Coalition
The SSCC worked with CATA to give the community’s existing bus shelter a makeover. This shelter on Holmes and Pleasant Grove Road was retrofit with electricity and LED lighting. Its glass paneling was switched from tinted to clear, in order to promote transparency and safety.CATA CEO Brad Funkhouser, Mayor Andy Schor, and others at the vibrant bus shelterThe most defining feature is the bus shelter’s pseudo-stained glass mural, with depictions of faces in the community. Another panel depicts the newly added Beacon Soccer Field, the community coalition and kids playing in the nearby park.

The vibrant color palette reminds us how the area radiates diversity, inclusion and play. 

The Community Ownership Movement
These projects were the spark of a community ownership movement. By partnering with local neighborhoods, CATA was better able to address community needs, concerns and vision. One new shelter was installed and an old shelter was beautified to become points of pride in their neighborhoods. Local communities were involved to make this movement an inclusive one.
 
Because each shelter is unique to its respective neighborhood, local desires to use and maintain them are strong.
 
"These shelters end up being the best cared for shelters," said CATA CEO Brad Funkhouser in a recent interview. "They become a central point of identity, a sense of place for each of the neighborhoods.”
Additional Bus Shelter Projects

CATA is striving to convert more bus shelters into beacons of local culture and pride. Four additional shelters were installed in the area, including new shelters on Michigan State University’s campus and one on Michigan Avenue near the Capitol building.

Three of these four shelters have enhanced amenities, including: real-time bus tracking displays, lighting, USB ports and Wi-Fi. The shelter on Michigan Avenue is even 100% solar-powered.

Who knew bus shelters could bring more culture to a community? We’d call this a winning combination.

Both of the new community inspired bus shelters are a great example of what can happen when the City of Lansing,...

Posted by Andy Schor on Friday, December 13, 2019

To explore more ways CATA drives art and culture, check out this video testimonial from Below the Stacks.

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