By Anne Sparling and Pam Kummer
Co-Directors Economic Justice Project
Church and Society Committee, First UMC-Brighton & Whitmore Lake
We wanted to share with you our excitement about what God is doing in our work. A little over a year ago the need for adequate public transportation was made known to us by our own Mary Kushner, who works faithfully and diligently at Torch 180 in Fowlerville. Torch 180 trains young adults with disadvantages to work in the restaurant business. Mary shared that some of the students struggle to keep employment because of the lack of adequate public transportation.
So, advocating for expanding public transit in Livingston County has been one of our project’s goals for the past year. In 2022, we showed our appreciation to the Livingston Essential Transportation Service (LETS) staff in a little celebration at the LETS garage with about a dozen people present. It was the first celebration of Rosa Parks/Transit Equity Day, national day of action observed on Rosa Parks’ birthday, Feb. 4). It was a start.
On Feb. 3, 2023, we held our second annual Rosa Parks/Transit Equity Day celebration at Torch 180 with about 40 people in attendance, enjoying pancakes using Rosa Parks’ recipe and a full breakfast. We partnered with the Transportation Coalition, Sierra Club, Torch 180 and Molina Health to plan and carry out this special event. Molina Health presented us with a check to fund the breakfast. The representative from Molina shared how touched she was by the testimonies people gave about how expanding public transit has improved lives.
Appreciation and recognition was shown to Putnam, Unadilla and Hamburg townships for their efforts to expand public transportation. The LETS staff was shown appreciation for the wonderful services they provide for our community, the Sierra Club and our Church and Society was shown appreciation as well.
We were excited that a representative from Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin’s office attended and expressed appreciation for our efforts. Two of our county commissioners came and one commissioner made a point of letting us know how inspiring our celebration was and pledged to work on this issue. We were also able to get the cities of Brighton and Howell to recognize and proclaim Feb. 3 as Rosa Parks Transit Equity Day.
The celebration was everything we hoped for and more. God was present and people were inspired. Doing this work has been rewarding in so many ways. We get to meet and work with wonderful folks from our community that care about people and are working to help people in Livingston County flourish. We are all growing in our understanding of the needs in our community and get to see other people grow as well.