The skies were dark but the mood euphoric for Paratransit’s 30th anniversary party and celebration. On April 9th, 2009 our community, employees and public servants celebrated this milestone with food and fellowship at our Florin Road facility. Since 1978, Paratransit, Inc. has provided transportation and independence to the elderly and disabled communities throughout the greater Sacramento area. Tours of the facility, video presentation, lunch and guest speakers highlighted the event.
Linda Deavens, Paratransit CEO, kicked off the gala providing the crowd of nearly 350 people with a historical footprint of our birth and development. With great pride and appreciation she thanked those whose service to the organization was paramount in our accomplishments and evolution.
“Today is all about people” Linda explained, “those who use our service, those who make it possible”, citing our passengers, Board of Directors, transit, agency and public service partnerships. She credited our “wonderful staff, whose attitudes are that of how they can make it happen”, with whatever task that is put before them.
Councilmember Lauren Hammond, Vice Mayor and the first African American woman to be elected to our City Council, was honored for her many contributions to our community. In 2005 Ms. Hammond joined the Paratransit Board providing us with her knowledge and expertise on transportation issues. She was also recognized for her service in the State Senate as their coordinator for the Americans for Disabilities Act.
In her speech, Ms. Hammond addressed “what an honor it was to be on the Paratransit Board of Directors”. She paid tribute to Paratransit as the “trailblazers” of the ADA transportation industry. She acknowledged Paratransit for persevering when “no one else was doing what they were doing and finding the way to do it themselves, making sure that everyone has the accessibility they deserve”. “The reality is, this is a necessary service”. “There are so many who can’t get around to do the things everyone else does, either by way of public transit or by their own means of transportation”. She commended Paratransit for their commitment to clean energy and ongoing improvements to provide for a sustainable environment. Ms. Hammond concluded stating “how extremely proud she was of Paratransit, as a neighbor, as a business, as a service, a commitment with a smile”. She thanked Bill Durant, Linda Deavens and Mary Steinert for “their continued commitment to the community”.
Councilmember Hammond recognized fellow community dignitaries in attendance, Larry Carr of SMUD’s Board of Directors, Supervisor Roger Dickinson and Stacey Smith of Senator Barbara Boxer’s office.
Linda Deavens introduced Councilmember and former Vice Mayor, Steve Cohn. Councilman Cohn’s vision is for Sacramento to be the most livable city in America, with excellent schools and libraries; abundant parks and open spaces; a dynamic Central City; vibrant with arts, sports and cultural attractions. Steve’s desire is for everything we would need to be within walking distance and if it wasn’t, it would be easily assessable by a prolific transportation network in which Paratransit plays a significant role. Councilmember Cohn provided some statistics creating visions of space travel, citing that in 2008, Paratransit provided close to 1,000,000 miles of transportation to our passengers. This is the equivalent of approximately 237 trips to the moon and back, difficult for many of us to comprehend. The crowd laughed when he stated “they are not doing this with two borrowed busses anymore” acknowledging where we started in 1978, the growth of our fleet, quality of our staff and accomplishments. He went on to state that “he hears that our customers feel like Paratransit is really part of the community”. “That it is not just a customer/business relationship, the relationship they have with their passengers is much greater than that”. Steve praised Linda Deavens, co-founders, Bill Durant and Phil McGuire, for their leadership being “creative in terms of how best to make this service available in a very efficient way”. He closed in extending his “congratulations”, followed by a round of “Happy Birthday” sung by those attending.
Founder and Paratransit’s first Executive Director, Phil McGuire, spoke of Paratransit’s early days. He remembered fondly, on July 20, 1978, personally walking Paratransit’s incorporation papers into the Secretary of State’s office. He proudly recognized some of Paratransit’s original employees and former co-workers, Bill Durant, Linda Deavens and Mary Steinert for their accomplishments and success.
Phil now heads up Paratransit’s Innovative Paradigms division. Innovative Paradigms is a consulting and operating business, “that takes the message and concepts developed at Paratransit, Inc.”, offering their services to a variety of transit agencies and non-profit organizations.
Deavens introduced long time friend and Paratransit partner, Regional Transit’s General Manager, Mike Wiley. Also recognized was Senator Dave Jones’ representative.
During her finale, Deavens paid tribute to former Executive Director, Bill Durant. “Bill has been our leader for so long, teaching us to do the right thing”. “He taught us to understand what is important, what our values are and to live up to those values”. As Deavens donned Groucho Marx’ nose and glasses, the crowd roared with laughter, telling all that these glasses were Bill’s standard issue to Paratransit staff in his day. Bill joked; they were to remind us “not to take ourselves too seriously”. Something we should all remember to do.
Bill humored the crowd while talking about the store clerk’s reaction, when he bought 300 pairs of these glasses telling her they were prescription glasses for perspective. Durant honored all of those he met, worked with, and laughingly, argued with, during his time with the organization. He talked warmly of those, along with him, who advocated for everyone to have equal transportation options, to be able to live as independently as possible, with dignity and to appreciate our differences.
Ms. Deavens recognized the twentieth anniversary of Non-Profits United Insurance Corp., formerly Paratransit Insurance Corp. Deavens stated that there was a time “we couldn’t buy insurance”. Paratransit, along with their sister organizations throughout California, formed a statewide association starting their own insurance company.
Community partner Jill Yungling, of Eskaton Adult Day Health Care, presented Ms. Deavens with a picture drawn by one of their participants and regular Paratransit rider, Larry Vance. She joked, “In the absence of any prompting”, Larry drew this picture of a bus with “Paratransit, A Special Company” illustrated on the side of it.
Special thanks were extended to the students at CSUS for producing the beautiful commemorative video for Paratransit.
The staff and management at Paratransit extend their thanks to J.R.’s Bar-B-Que for providing a fabulous meal and KHITS 92.1 for the great music.
A wonderful time was had by one and all. Our sincere appreciation and thanks to everyone that attended along with those who participated in creating and celebrating our special day with us.
July 29, 2014