Thank you Monica Wentz and her first grade students from Oakview School in West Deptford! The class collected children’s books and brought them to our office to be distributed to a local child development center.
You Can’t Miss the New Pureland East-West Community Shuttle
Michael Gower, Executive Director of the United Way of Gloucester County, stated that “It has been an amazing 18 months since the launch of the Pureland East-West Community Shuttle.” The program started in June 2015 when the United Way of Gloucester County received a grant from the Pascale Sykes Foundation, as part of a collaborative effort with several community-service partners. Since that time, the shuttle has transported more than 33,000 passengers. This program has been helping riders navigate across Gloucester County and South Jersey. The shuttle travels from the Avandale Park & Ride through Williamstown, Glassboro, Mullica Hill, Swedesboro to the Pureland Industrial Complex located in Logan Township. Where there is also a free circulator shuttle within the Pureland Complex, bringing employees to their workplace. All vehicles have lift service.
However, this Fall the shuttles, operated by South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA), went through a complete visual transformation, and now they can’t be missed. When this service started, plain white shuttle buses navigated the nearly 30-mile route, stopping at the 10 designated pick-up locations. If you weren’t looking for them, you might have thought it was a private shuttle or perhaps another service operated by SJTA.
But now, there is no way you can miss seeing these shuttle buses. These formerly white buses have been fully wrapped in vivid graphical design. People have commented that the new signage, in the bright turquoise green, “Can’t be missed and grab your attention as they pass by!” Also, the shuttle stop signs were refreshed for better visibility, making them stand out even more.
The numbers speak for themselves: In the first month of service, 557 riders used the Pureland East-West Community Shuttle; in December 2016, there were 3,053 riders, a 448% increase. The shuttle is still only $1.00 each way. It is an inexpensive way to make certain that the general transportation needs of our Gloucester County residents of all ages are being met. The shuttle operates from 4:54 am to 7:30 pm, Monday thru Friday.
When speaking about the impact this shuttle has in our community, Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger stated, “The growth that this program has experienced is phenomenal. We all knew this was a necessary transportation initiative, and we are pleased that the ridership is hitting record levels. It is true, if you build it, they will come.”
The shuttle makes over 120 connections with 11 NJ TRANSIT buses. Most of the connections can be made within 15 minutes. A free one-zone ride on a connecting NJ TRANSIT bus is available from the Shuttle at Shuttle stops #1, 5, 8, 9 & 10. Simply ask the Shuttle driver for a transfer. A free one-way ride on the Shuttle is available from a connecting NJ TRANSIT bus at stops #1, 5, 8, 9, & 10. Ask the NJ TRANSIT bus driver for a transfer which costs $.70.
Freeholder Heather Simmons, Liaison to the Department of Economic Development, commented, “The Pureland Shuttle is an essential piece of getting our residents to work and providing our employers with the employees they need. The fact that unemployment is down in Gloucester County and that there has been a 448% increase in ridership from the start in June 2015 is not a coincidence.” Simmons added, “We work with our employers to make sure that they have a trained workforce and this is a piece of the puzzle that helps get our employees to work in a safe and convenient manner.”
The United Way of Gloucester County focuses on local issues that affect the people that live and work in the community. Gower stated that “The number one issue that kept coming up facing Gloucester County residents was the need for additional public transportation. This program not only fills that need and provides increased access across the region, but also through a partnership with the Heart of South Jersey.” Riders receive additional information on services and programs through a monthly printed newsletter published by this agency, called “On the Route.”
Freeholder Jim Jefferson, Liaison to the Division of Transportation Services remarked that, “The Pureland East-West Community Shuttle is successful because of the riders and partners who work together to manage it. This program is very well thought out with external routes and internal loops within Pureland. And, it is not only for employees at Pureland, people can use this service to get to doctors’ appointments, stores and other stops along the routes.”
The Pureland East-West Community Shuttle is a partnership between the Pascale Sykes Foundation, United Way of Gloucester County, South Jersey Transportation Authority, Cross County Connection Transportation Management Association, The County of Gloucester, NJ TRANSIT and Heart of South Jersey.
If you have any questions about the shuttle, the schedule, or need assistance, please contact SJTA, Customer Service 856.614.1072. To download the schedule, please visit the website www.driveless.com.
Funding of $1,000 per Program
Clarifi – Financial Smarts for Seniors
This program will provide two client workshops about the changing realities as people age. Topics will focus on the needs of older adults which include money management, credit, ID theft, frauds & financial predators, understanding their credit report, reverse mortgages, loan smarts and social security. Each workshop has a target of 40 attendees.
Greater Woodbury Cooperative Ministries – Fresh Produce for the Food Pantry
This grant will allow the food pantry to continue to purchase fresh produce, to offer a fresh vegetable, fruit and a choice of either white or sweet potatoes each time their clients visit. In 2015, the pantry served 3,706 hungry families in the greater Woodbury area; those families were composed of 4,914 adults, 1,054 seniors and 2,676 children. They were provided with nutritious food items, as well as protein, and a five-dollar certificate to Heritage Dairy Stores to purchase milk, juice, bread, butter or eggs.
Lauren Rose Albert Foundation – Mothers Matter
The grant will be used to purchase a laptop computer and printer for the Mothers Matter headquarters. Currently, the organization does not have this capability onsite and it will be used for email communications, printing needs, fundraising efforts, mailings, organizing volunteers and collection drives at schools, businesses, organizations and individuals, track collections and maintain and update a data base. The computer will increase efficiency, improve community outreach and communications and expand program capabilities. Mothers Matter began in 2001 as a way to assist, uplift and empower women in need with the simple act of providing a gift or women’s personal care and toiletry items bearing the message that “Mothers Matter”. Initially, they were given just on Mother’s Day. By 2010, the program has grown into a year-round effort and now reaches close to 4,500 women a year who are burdened with personal or family illness, tragedy or quality-of-life issues, as well as those who are being served by our Partner Agencies, as well as others.
Partners in Learning – Science for All
The school serves 27 students, nearly one third have Autism Spectrum Disorders. Funds will be applied to the purchase of needed curriculum items for the enhanced Science Center units of instruction, including materials for both parent outreach activities, for training resources for teachers and to enhance the Science Center as a part of the on-going STEM program (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math).
South Jersey Dream Center – Food Distribution Refrigerator
Funds will be used to purchase a commercial size refrigerator. Throughout the year, the organization receives fresh produce and dairy products from their food partners prior to the day of distribution, which requires refrigeration. Perishable items are harder to come by and the guests truly prize those items. Last year, over 800 families were served and this year that number will be surpassed.
Story Storks – Books for Newborns
All funds will be used to purchase books for new mothers at Inspira and Kennedy hospitals. The sole purpose of the organization is to foster literacy development in the home by teaching mothers how to read to their children. After each birth, a trained volunteer enters the room of the mother and asks to speak about reading. The volunteer demonstrates an appropriate oral reading procedure and discusses its benefits on the brain and language development on preschool children. The mother is presented with a copy of a board book imprinted with the child’s footprint. The book serves as a family keepsake and a reminder to read at home. The mothers are told about the program’s website, which has a demonstration video and other information about how to foster literacy development in their home. The organization serves approximately 800 at Inspira per year and 730 at Kennedy, for a total of 1,530.
Student Working Professionals - #iLeadBiz Business Leadership Camp
The focus is on entrepreneurship to give students, ages 15-18, a sample of various business skills from marketing to finance to professionalism, in a fun and engaging way through games, exercises, workshops and panel discussions from business leaders in the community. The program is a 5-day camp that has a different theme each day: entrepreneurship 101, marketing & branding, finance, professionalism, on the fifth day, the campers work on group business idea pitches and present them in front of a live audience and a panel of judges. The campers are exposed to various areas of business and learn the skills necessary to become successful business leaders. It is projected that 25 students will participate in the camp, with a maximum of 40.