Getting Around Puget Sound = One Step Closer to Exiting Poverty

By United Way of King County Posted on February 9, 2016 In News

Every weekday morning for the past 11 months, I’ve traversed by bus to Hopelink’s Client Service Center in Bellevue from my home in central Seattle. As I’d with my morning coffee and prepare myself for another day of VISTA service, I’d think about how big of an impact transportation has had on my quality of life. For me, it means getting to work on time, visiting friends and family, or making a trip to a local park on the weekends.

As an United Way AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Hopelink, many people have been surprised to find out that the work I do to fight poverty throughout King County is focused on improving transportation options for our community, especially veterans, refugees, and immigrant populations.

Transportation is a service that’s often taken for granted, but it is vital for people trying to exit poverty. In a large continuing study of upward mobility by Harvard, commuting time emerged as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty. The relationship between transportation and social mobility was stronger than other factors such as neighborhood crime or elementary school test scores. For many people in our communities, finding safe, reliable, and affordable transportation is a matter of getting to the grocery store, to a dialysis center, to that first job interview, or to their case management appointment to find housing. Overall, transportation is a huge factor in determining access to basic need services that can lead to financial stability and ultimately improving one’s quality of life.

Through my work with Hopelink, I’ve connected hundreds of veterans and individuals from other populations to resources that can mean the difference between becoming self-sufficient or not. Some days this means recruiting awesome volunteers to help teach refugees how to load money onto an ORCA LIFT card, or surveying veterans in transitional housing programs about their challenges navigating public transit, or even facilitating training to social workers who serve homeless individuals and want to help their clients find better transportation options. I am so grateful that through my experience as a United Way VISTA at Hopelink I have had this opportunity to connect with a network of passionate change-makers who want to make King County a better place where everyone can thrive. While everyday is completely different, it brings me one step closer to fulfilling the pledge of AmeriCorps: To take action, strengthen our communities, and get things done!


Launch your career in nonprofits, gain professional experience and help your community! United Way of King County is seeking an exceptional AmeriCorps VISTA to join a team of dynamic change agents working to fight poverty at Hopelink! We deploy AmeriCorps VISTA members to serve at partner agencies to expand their capacity to serve low-income populations.

If you are interested in serving with Hopelink, please send a letter of interest and resume to Jacquee Kurdas, nationalservice@uwkc.org. Submit application materials as soon as possible for consideration.


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