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Angels of Lansing: How KCS Angels is Changing Lives

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Categories: Blog, Community

CATA’s mission is to meet the mobility needs of our region by providing innovative solutions in partnership with the communities we serve. That’s why CATA is proud to support KCS Angels’ mission to help people with disabilities enjoy safe, therapeutic recreation, physical activity and life skills development in an inclusive environment. In the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic, programs for adults with disabilities are underfunded and there is a greater need for programs such as the one KCS Angels provides. In light of this, CATA is showing support for KCS Angels by providing a donation of $2,500 for use toward Spec-Tran services for their members. We’ve provided this with hopes it can help the KCS Angels fulfill their passions with this noble cause.

CATA and KCS Angels standing with large donation check

“It's [this program] everything to me, I don't want to do anything else," said one of the KCS Angels founders, Tracy Smith "I've watched the Angels, all of them, bloom and become themselves." 

Tracy's brother-in-law Scott, and two other adults with disabilities were the co-founders and creators of KCS Angels, which is a registered nonprofit 5o1(c)3 in 2016, to help support peers with inclusive activities in the Lansing area. It was founded with ‘Angels’ as an acronym forming the organization's core values. 

Large group of smiling people sitting on bleachers together.

Attitude - we respect each other and recognize our differences without judgment.

Network - we are pursuing opportunities to strengthen our relationships with similar organizations in the community to build each other up.

Give - we believe in giving back to our community.

Empower - we believe all people have their own unique abilities, we want to be the vessel that helps support and empower everyone.

Love - all people need and deserve to feel valued, safe, and included in the community.

Support - our foundation is to support each other; we do that by listening to each other's needs and desires and incorporating that into our daily life and activities.


The daily activities that are provided by KCS Angels are run solely by volunteers.  Others that volunteer with Tracy have found the experience fulfilling, like KCS Angel Big Al, who explains what KCS Angels feels like to him. "Family, because of all these people around me. I don't have a family up in Michigan, so when Tracy came along and told me about KCS Angels a couple years ago at the workshop I used to work at, I asked if I could join. I'm proud to be an Angel because of Tracy and this program."

And for others, the value of KCS Angels is much simpler. "I just like helping people," said Kristin, co-founder and peer of KCS Angels. "We come here to see our friends, we have a good time." 

The purpose and guiding principles of this organization are something CATA deeply empathizes with, which is why CATA has donated $2,500 dollars to KCS Angels so they can provide Spec-Tran services for the members of the organization. [Spec-Tran] is CATA’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complementary paratransit service for people unable to use CATA’s fixed-route system.

If you’re interested in learning more about KCS Angels or are interested in volunteering or donating, visit to read more. If you’re also interested in finding out more about CATA’s services such as Spec-Tran and more, you can find it as well as service information, trip planning tools, and plenty more helpful service information at their website.

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CATA and LPD collaborate to combat human trafficking

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Categories: Blog

By Ashten Tucker, Assistant Marketing Manager

Community safety has always been a priority for CATA. Now, thanks to a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, CATA has partnered with the Lansing Police Department to combat human trafficking. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about the growing prevalence of human trafficking in the region and to provide information that can help prevent it.

Michigan ranks in the top 10 of all states for human trafficking, with nearly 300 cases reported in 2021.

According to Captain Rodney Anderson, who oversees Lansing Police Department’s human-trafficking mitigation efforts, the driving philosophy behind the CATA-LPD partnership to fight human trafficking is, “If you see something, say something.”Human Trafficking Flyer

In most cases, this means calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888. The hotline is staffed by experts who can help evaluate the situation and recommend appropriate next steps. The service is available 24/7 and supports more than 200 different languages. Anderson noted, if a situation involves immediate danger to an individual, calling 9-1-1 is the recommended response.

To keep the most vulnerable members of the community safe, according to Anderson, it is everyone's responsibility to be observant and to report suspicious circumstances to the proper authorities.

As part of its partnership with CATA, LPD will incorporate key lessons about human trafficking into its educational outreach programs in area schools through the GREAT (Gang Resistance Education and Training) program. Specially trained officers lead school assemblies that teach youth about the warning signs of human trafficking and how they can take action to prevent it from happening to them or a loved one. Additionally, CATA and LPD will work closely with Lansing’s Refugee Development Center to ensure that vulnerable individuals who may experience language or cultural barriers don't become human trafficking victims.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign will also serve as a partner in the creation of informational and training documents. Blue Campaign is a national public-awareness initiative designed to educate the public, area law-enforcement agencies and industry partners.

Together, improving community safety and preventing the exploitation of the region’s most vulnerable citizens is a critical goal for all program partners.

This content has been published in the 2022 Community Report.


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School District Partnership Ensures Student Success

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Categories: Blog

By Andrew Brieschke, Deputy CEO

Ask any K-12 official about the secret to student success, and they’re sure to mention attendance at the top of the list. Throughout the ages, school attendance has relied on various modes of transportation, particularly walking, riding a bicycle, carpooling, driving or riding a school bus.

Two weeks prior to the start of the 2021–’22 academic year, Ben Shuldiner had only just started his career as Lansing School District’s superintendent. One of his first tasks was to address the global driver shortage — brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic — that would potentially leave students without bus transportation to and from school.Ben Shuldiner stands in front of the Lansing school district sign

Shuldiner, who hailed from New York City, wondered whether public transportation was the answer.

“The moment we realized that we were going to have a bus shortage, we reached out to our partners, and we are so lucky that we were able to partner with CATA,” said Shuldiner. “It’s how everyone gets around in New York City.”

Little did Shuldiner know at the time that community partnership and regional mobility solutions were among CATA’s strategic goals and, therefore, at the heart of the Authority’s decision-making. To that end, when Shuldiner approached CATA with a request for transportation assistance, CATA was eager to lend a hand.

The partnership included the provision of 200 first-and second-semester bus passes — paid for and distributed by the school district at no cost to students or their families.

Recognizing that riding a city bus might intimidate students who had never ridden before, CATA extended its CATAguides program at Michigan State University to include Lansing School District. Volunteer guides — all administrative employees from various departments at CATA — converged on campuses to provide resources, rules and general information to help students self-sufficiently and confidently navigate the system. CATA’s Customer Experience Representatives were also available by phone to assist with trip planning throughout the school year. For non-English-speaking riders, translations were provided in predominantly used languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, Korean and, to accommodate a large population of Afghani refugees who would resettle in the area, Farsi.

Additionally, CATA and school district personnel worked together to notate and distribute frequently asked questions and a customized system map with routing details and school locations. These tools allowed both students and parents to easily navigate CATA’s service.

Deric and Eric smile in their graduation caps and gowns in front of Eastern high schoolFor Shuldiner, not only is the partnership between CATA and Lansing School District a much-needed solution for Lansing students, but it also promises greater things to come for student riders.

“It’s more than just getting to and from school. What about getting to a job? What about getting to a place to do an internship? Or just going to a park to enjoy the city?” Shuldiner asked.

Providing public transportation services to students and families allow them the freedom to explore everything Lansing has to offer. It encourages participation in athletic programming and after-school activities, and connects them to jobs, local venues and destinations that they might otherwise not have the opportunity to experience.

CATA looks forward to serving new generations of riders during the 2022– ’23 academic year and beyond, thanks to its ongoing partnership with the Lansing School District.

For details about high school service, visit Volunteer to be an AmBUSsador to help guide Lansing School District students on riding the bus to and from school at

This content has been published in the 2022 Community Report.

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