To the editor:
On behalf of everyone at Western Community Action and the Community Transit program I write this letter.
Every day the wheels on a fleet of 20 Community Transit busses go round, round, round transporting community residents to doctor appointments, grocery stores, daycare and about anywhere you want to go. Clad in orange and blue bearing the insignia "Community Transit", the busses are highly visible and recognizable. What is less visible is the person who has been responsible for developing the present day Community Transit program Jeanette Porter who has been fighting an exhausting battle against cancer - enduring surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
Jeanette is the Transportation Director for the Community Transit program at Western Community Action and, if any one person could represent the agency's commitment to helping people, it is Jeanette. Providing people with courteous, dependable transportation is something that Jeanette has been doing for 30 years. Her unconventional thinking is changing the shape of transportation in southwest Minnesota. Under her leadership, helping people get to and from their destinations looks more like a family member giving another family member a ride than what is normally envisioned as "mass transit."
One of Jeanette's passions is breaking down barriers which prevent access to needed transportation. In the early 1980s, with only a handful of volunteer drivers, Jeanette worked to secure more access to transportation resources. By 1990 two public transportation buses with accessible lifts were added to the program so passengers in wheelchairs could ride. Jeanette also believes in using technology to increase efficiency and decrease rider costs. She constantly looks outside the box for better solutions to serve more people in more ways.
Jeanette is recognized in regional, state, and federal circles for her work in community transportation coordination and seemingly tireless pursuit to create a model transportation program which meets the needs of people in rural settings. Jeanette was awarded the Minnesota Transit Professional of the Year in 1991 and held seats on the Minnesota Public Transit Association board as well as being involved in the National Community Transit Association of America where she has been invited on several occasions to present her view on how coordination is vital to affordable transportation.
Jeanette inspires a culture of care and respect in how the Community Transit program of Western Community Action operates. Often, when people come to Western Community Action they are desperate for help because they are experiencing a hardship that they cannot solve themselves. In many cases they have lost hope. For Jeanette, providing affordable quality transportation to people in need is more than "the wheels on the bus going round, round, round", it is people helping people and changing lives.
With great appreciation and regard for a woman of courage and a colleague of esteem,
John D. Fitzgerald,
Executive Director, Western Community Action