VIA Cares - VIA Metropolitan Transit

VIA Cares

VIA Cares

CONNECTING OUR COMMUNITY

We care about the community we serve and we’re committed to keep San Antonio moving so we can all get ahead. VIA Cares organizes available resources to help make ends meet for neighbors in need and builds on partnerships that match VIA volunteers with opportunities to serve.

VIA CARES CURRENT PROGRAMS

ATU Black Caucus brightens Thanksgiving For Families in NEISD with Turkey Giveaway

On Thursday, Nov. 19, a steady stream of cars pulled up to Camelot Elementary to receive a free Thanksgiving Day turkey from VIA operators, who are members of the local Amalgamated Transit Union’s Black Caucus Chapter.

The Chapter raised the funds, purchased the turkeys and partnered with New Life Church and Family Specialist Laura Salas at the Northeast Independent School District campus, who identified approximately 35 families in need during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We want to bless families for Thanksgiving, especially during these difficult times,” ATU Black Caucus Chapter president and VIA operator Tammy Sims said. “But at the same time, we want to build a relationship with the people in the neighborhoods where we drive our buses. We want them to know that we’re more than bus operators, we’re their friends; we’re their neighbors and we care about them.”

VIA + San Antonio Food Bank Fighting Hunger

VIA CaresVIA and the San Antonio Food Bank began in collaboration at the onset of the stay-at-home orders to make sure homebound residents wouldn’t go hungry during these challenging times. VIA bus and VIAtrans operators have delivered more than 5,800 boxes – approximately 161,000 meals – prepared by Food Bank staff and volunteers to homes and distribution points throughout San Antonio.

Each box contains enough food and supplies to feed a family of four for a week.

The San Antonio Food Bank serves an estimated 60,000 individuals each week in one of the largest service areas in Texas. That was before the coronavirus shuttered hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs, leaving many with little resources and few options.

VIA will continue to deliver food bank supplies as long as resources are available. If you are home bound and in need of food, please call the San Antonio Food Bank at (210) 431-8326 to pre-register. Learn more about the Food Bank’s mission  at SAFoodBank.org.

VIA Operators deliver meals to the American GI Forum – National Veterans Outreach Program

VIA Cares

VIA operator and former U.S. Marine, Michele Glenn helps load 160 food plates on VIA bus for delivery to veterans at the American GI Forum – National Veterans Outreach Program on July 3, 2020.

The Fourth of July weekend was a fitting backdrop for a group of VIA operators to deliver 160 plates of food to the veterans at the American GI Forum – National Veterans Outreach Program, as part of the VIA Cares initiative.

VIA Cares organizes and collaborates with available resources to help meet community needs and builds on partnerships that match VIA volunteers with opportunities to serve.

For the VIA operators, the event had an impactful purpose because all of them also are U.S. veterans. Michele Glenn, an operator for 14 years, served eight years in the U.S. Marines; Jeff Wishert, an operator for 17 years, served four years in the U.S. Navy; Miguel Amador, a VIA operator for 14 years, served in the U.S. Army for five years; and David Silva, an operator for 27 years, served in the U.S Army two years.

“It means a lot to give back to these guys that put their country first when they were called to duty,” Glenn said. “There is a sense of pride to be part of a group of veterans that are still looking out for other veterans who might not be as fortunate.”

Friday’s lunch was a partnership with the Neighborhood Faith Convening Group, which is an organization of six faith-based organizations that help support veterans, children, families, and schools in the SAISD. All the food was prepared by Acadiana Café.

“Three times a year we provide meals for veterans at the Veteran’s Center downtown,” Christ Episcopal Church Rev. Justin Lindstrom said. “We’re really excited for VIA to be a part of this, picking up the food and delivering it. We’re thankful for VIA and that great partnership we have, and we’re thankful for our veterans.”

Silva said he developed a deep respect for fellow veterans because he lost friends to war.

“I served during the Vietnam war, but fortunately I didn’t have to go there,” Silva said. “We were in the service during a time when we were drafted; most of my friends from the old neighborhood, none of them came back. So, we celebrate the freedoms we have by honoring our veterans who did make it back.”.

VIA Cares Volunteers Lend a Hand at Crisis Relief Food Distribution

Image: VIAtrans van at SA Food BankVIA Cares volunteers helped support the San Antonio Food Bank’s Crisis Relief Food Distribution at Trader’s Village on May 5.

The Crisis Relief events, organized by the Food Bank and powered by hundreds of volunteers, helps feed thousands of local families who are struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 crisis.

The day of service is part of VIA’s partnership with the Food Bank that includes daily food deliveries from VIA operators to homebound residents in need of assistance.

VIA will continue to deliver food bank supplies as long as resources are available. If you are home bound and in need of food, please call the San Antonio Food Bank at (210) 431-8326 to pre-register.

Learn more about the Food Bank’s mission to fight hunger at SAFoodBank.org.

VIA Cares Wi-Fi Hot Spots Connect Local Students on College Signing Day

Graphic: 3000 boxes delivered by VIA for SA Food Bank

“College isn’t canceled.” That was the message on May 1 to hundreds of local high school seniors celebrating graduation and what comes next.

The Class of 2020 connected for College Signing Day 2020—a chance to share the news about where they plan to attend college and university in the fall—with a little help from VIA Cares.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, students and families could not gather in a traditional College Signing Day ceremony.

VIA partnered with the San Antonio Education Partnership, SA2020, and other local organizations to provide mobile hot spots at area high schools, so the community could access free Wi-Fi and watch San Antonio’s first virtual College Signing Day.

More than 220 high seniors representing 42 area schools were featured in the unprecedented virtual event that included interviews with 20 different students, prize giveaways, musical performances, surprise guests.

The virtual celebration reached nearly 13,000 Facebook users, who were encouraged to share online using #CollegeSigningDaySA to support this year’s class of seniors.

VIA Rolls Out Free Wi-Fi for Students

Image: Free Student WiFi VanA new collaboration took aim at the digital divide that makes distance learning difficult or impossible for many San Antonio students without reliable internet access while the city observes the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order.

VIA, the City of San Antonio, San Antonio Housing Authority, San Antonio ISD and Northside ISD partnered to provide mobile Wi-Fi service to students, using VIAtrans vans equipped with high-speed Wi-Fi networks through the end of the 2019-20 school year. The vans were dispatched to various locations identified by the City, SAHA, SAISD and NISD partners, based on assessment of various factors, including student population in the area, other available resources and logistics that make network access possible while observing social distancing guidelines.

Nearly 25 percent of Bexar County households do not have a computer at home and about 21 percent lack broadband internet access, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2017 data). This disconnect means low-income families with school-aged children can’t easily access digital classrooms or lessons needed to complete the school year.

VIA mobile hotspots first rolled out April 9 to three test sites. Additional locations are being added based on availability of vehicles and utilization of the program. The program will continue on a limited basis, based on resource availability and site accessibility.

Image: Free Student WiFi map

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VIA + PRESA Hooking Up Seniors and Disabled Community

VIA the PRESA Transportation Coalition (PRESA Community, Ride Connect Texas, St. Gregory the Great, Greater Randolph Area Senior Program, and Kirby Senior Center) have stepped up to provide rides for curbside grocery pickup for older adults and individuals with disabilities.

PRESA Transportation Coalition and VIAtrans are active partners in the Successfully Aging and Living in San Antonio (SALSA) collaborative an initiative of the San Antonio Area Foundation focusing on creating a community where older adults are respected, thrive and enjoy connected lives.

The organization is encouraging current VIAtrans customers to order curbside grocery pick-up and schedule their ride through VIAtrans at (210) 362-5050. Please make your curbside reservation with the grocery store before scheduling a trip on VIAtrans.