Johnson City Transit employees keep the city moving, but for the most part, the do their jobs without much thanks.
But on Thursday, members of the Johnson City Morning Rotary Club brought breakfast to the downtown transit center to show their appreciation for the people they called “community heroes.”
Club President Mina McVeigh said the Breakfast for Community Heroes initiative was created to recognize those people whose contributions aren’t always noticed, but if their work wasn’t done, they would be missed.
“Without the jobs they do, people couldn’t get to work, children couldn’t get to school without them,” she said. “Building good will and better friendships is part of our club’s four-way test, and this is a way we thought we could do those things.”
A dispatcher poked her head into the room in the transit center where the Chick-fil-A biscuits, bottled water and coffee were lined up to grab a bite before getting back on the radio and said exactly what the waiting, smiling club members thought they’d hear.
“We never thought of ourselves as heroes,” she said with a smile on her face and a chicken biscuit in her hand.
Paratransit driver and relief school bus driver Susie Ludrosky often takes disabled passengers to appointments. She’s considers most of them her friends, and she said the work is fulfilling.
“I love what I do,” she said.
Her boss Missy Curtis has been working for the transit department for 25 years. She answers calls for paratransit riders and schedules drivers to pick them up and take them where they need to be. Sometimes, she said, they call just to talk, even when they don’t need transportation.
“A lot of times, we’ll be the only person they talk to all day, so they just call us to have a conversation,” Curtis said.
McVeigh said the credit for the initiative goes to David Varney, the club’s Service Chair.
Varney said he’d heard about a program elsewhere that provides breakfast at bus stops for lower-income adults, and he adapted the idea to celebrate the community’s unsung heroes.
Thursday’s breakfast was the first the club has hosted, but they’re planning them quarterly, on the fifth Thursday of months with five Thursdays. The next one will be in January, but club members haven’t yet decided who to serve.
McVeigh said club membership is open to all. Meetings are each Thursday morning at 7:15 in the community room of Food City, 920 N. State of Franklin Road, Johnson City.