October 31, 2018, I learned MY FAITH HAD BECOME SIGHT! It was a HUGE DAY of victory in a 7-month successful advocacy campaign involving the third largest community college in the state of Texas! It was an unrelenting advocacy journey for equality on behalf of persons with disabilities and Senior Adults who qualify for the Fort Worth Trinity Metro/Tarrant County College EasyRide Free Ride Program and use Paratransit transportation the be included.
Now for the backstory…
March 27, 2018, I saw an online Fort Worth Business Press article announcing #FreeRides for ALL Tarrant County College (TCC) students. http://www.fortworthbusiness.com/news/tarrant-county-college-to-provide-trinity-metro-bus-rides-for/article_adceec88-3201-11e8-9ffa-cfc562fa5590.html These rides were made possible as a result of an issued federal grant. It detailed the agreement that Fort Worth Trinity Metro Public Transit and Tarrant County College had negotiated a contractural partnership called the EasyRide Program, which facilitated the initiative designed to eliminate the transportation barrier to education.
May 15, 2018 was set as the launch date.
Whoa! This news sent me reeling with great joy! My heart danced as a #TCC student who used the Trinity Metro paratransit transportation system. Being a savvy social media user, I immediately tweeted out my excitement of the news! A sobering thought suddenly hit me, which caused me to place a call to the paratransit division of Trinity Metro to confirm that their riders were included in this incredible “Breaking News” for ALL students.
Ecstatic elation quickly turned to disappointment to hear that paratransit riders were not included, which also meant me who is both a Senior Adult and a person with disAbilities. The disparaging news dealt me a crushing blow on a couple of levels. Persons with disabilities and Senior Adults who qualified and were relegated to this form of transportation WERE NOT included! After further research, another disheartening piece of discovery unearthed itself that the paratransit entity was not even brought to the table. As the sitting Chair of the Fort Worth Mayors Committee On Persons With Disabilities who leads in bringing education, awareness and equality in housing, employment, community involvement and transportation to the community, how could a nugget of gratitude be found in non-inclusion that looked liked blatant discrimination?
After sleeping on it for a night…
March 28, 2018, came and it was a NEW DAY! I consulted with various levels of management personnel to get other sets of eyes on what I deemed an unbelievable and egregious non-inclusion. Once my suspicions were confirmed, the nugget of #advocacy pushed all despair aside and #hope arose. Hope not only for me, but on behalf of ALL THOSE for whom advocacy could effect inclusion.
In recognizing time was of the essence with the
May 15, 2018 #EasyRideProgram launch date approaching with thunderous anticipation bellowing on the TCC campus, amongst Trinity Metro personnel and riders and over the news ways, I decided to proceed with this nugget as a Fort Worth Citizen rather than as the committee Chair so as not to be waylaid with red tape ByLaws constraints. While it was ONE VOICE being heard, it was with the support of a small village to whom I looked to for guidance in proceeding on this journey to equality ALL STUDENTS.
It took an unrelenting, unshakable determination, true grit and not being moved by or afraid of faces that portrayed no hope, the many many emails and streams of email dialogue and discussion, phone calls, meetings, not being intimidated by upper management and high level officials, not being dissuaded by the seeming impossibleness to impact change, attentiveness to detail, not growing weary in the nugget of advocacy and maintaining a firm grip on hope.
April 26, 2018, the true nugget of gratitude-find was in a phone call received from a high ranking TCC official after hearing of my advocacy in the grave oversight. My heart was encouraged when I heard this person owning responsibility for the omission with an earnest apology. In humble admission that the mechanics of the program had been thoroughly researched but the human element had been missed. There was a genuine commitment to step up and right the wrong. While I was moved by the humbleness and unequivocally acknowledged and accepted the sincerity of the heart, my looming concern was would it be in time for the forecasted…
May 15, 2018 launch date. The EasyRide Program agreement in fact was amended to include the qualified riders of the paratransit arm of Trinity Metro by said date.
However, it took another 5 months of the aforementioned grit to continue with the nugget of advocacy for a system of mechanics to be devised to implement the paratransit element. Through department, division, staff and personnel changes in creating a comparable operation, at times it seemed hopeless in the arduously tiring pursuit. But giving up or quitting was not an option!
This nugget of advocacy persevered in the midst of personal health challenges and an unfortunate severe water accident injury coincided with the
May 15, 2018 EasyRide Program following my daughter’s
May 13, 2018 Mother’s Day law school graduation from the University of Hawaii which this physical difficulty compounded the already disAbling impairments that had a…
November 16, 2004, onset of a stroke resulting in a brain injury, amongst other medical issues including the rare medical condition of ‘Foreign Accent Syndrome’. In bringing this to the forefront which makes the nugget find of advocacy so prevalent is that medical science gave me a triple life sentence at that time to be bedridden, housebound and wheelchair bound.
October 31, 2018, I received an apologetic phone call from a staff member of the TCC Customer Relations Department for the long backlog of overdue phone calls regarding the EasyRide Program for Trinity Metro paratransit riders. That call was not made to me as the one who had advocated for inclusion but as a TCC student who had requested #FreeRide tickets back in…
June 2018… In going through the verification process with the staff representative on
October 31, 2018… My heart began to burst as my mind was attempting to wrap my head around the fact that this could be the end of my 7-month nugget of advocacy. I turned the tables and began asking questions to ascertain the validity of operation of the program. Through tears and trembling voice, I mustered up the courage to make it known that I was the ONE VOICE who had advocated for the program to which I received a sincere, “Thank you very much for doing this!” Check out bullet point number 5 of https://www.tccd.edu/services/campus-resources/public-transportation/bus-program/ and see that the Tarrant County College/Trinity Metro EasyRide Program truly is for ALL #TarrantCountyCollege STUDENTS!
March 28, 2019, Standing as an able-bodied advocate, pardoned by the Great Physician from the medical science triple life sentence, I close offering hope to your passions and dreams. Sometimes it make take a deep excavation to exhume your nugget from the rockily riddled obstacles to find gratitude.
#NEVERGIVEUP #DONOTQUIT #differentlyAbled #disAbled #disability #differentlyAbled #differentlyCapable #education