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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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What It's All About

Friday, January 3, 2020

Categories: Blog, Community, Employees

Colorful christmas thank you noteLast month, CATA employees fulfilled Christmas wishes for 37 children and their families as part of the Operation Santa program.

Now our Christmas decor is in storage, the radio stations are done playing “Jingle Bells”, and we've traded in our ugly Christmas sweaters for daily business attire. But the spirit of giving lives on.

The children and families we helped through Operation Santa gifted us their kind words, drawings and gratitude. We received thank you cards from many of them, which are proudly displayed at our headquarters.

We appreciate their sweet gesture, and we’re grateful to all the people who’ve cultivated Operation Santa into a Red card that says Merry Christmas with a candy caneCATA tradition.

Thank you to our employees, friends and families who make this program a success year after year. As our Marketing Manager Pam Latka said, “It’s fun to think that we are keeping these kids’ Christmas dreams alive.”

That’s what it’s all about.

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