A caseworker’s thanks
The Salvation Army Northwest is beyond grateful for its partnership with the Uber Northwest Community Impact Initiative. Not only has it made the lives of our clients easier, but it’s also made a positive difference in the lives of our employees. Melissa Tucker is a Transitional Housing Case Manager at our William Booth Center. Through this grant, she has been able to book rides for her vulnerable clients. These rides help clients get to and from provider appointments, benefits offices, treatment programs, and employment opportunities. Tucker says that Uber has been beneficial for those who “lack of income, and have physical and mental disabilities.” By being able to monitor the Uber rides, she does not have to worry about her clients’ safety during travel.
Tucker has also received positive feedback from her clients’ providers, including doctors, nurses, and social workers. They are all thrilled that their patients now have a reliable source of transportation. Though the William Booth Center is near a bus station, the few blocks distance can be discouraging and even a barrier of access for some. Now, Tucker knows that her clients are receiving the treatment and support they deserve. When asked how Uber has helped her, Tucker noted that the grant is addressing a long-standing limitation of transportation. She said, “We are making grounds, and Uber is facilitating a gap and a need that is making waves.”
Client success stories
Trust in transportation
Being able to order Uber rides to remove survivors and their children from dangerous situations has been invaluable. Uber rides come within minutes of being called and can’t be easily connected by an abuser with a particular vehicle owner. For that reason, Uber is preferable to receiving a ride from a victims’ friend or relative, as often “helpers” are also targeted by the abuser.
The Salvation Army recently ordered a grant-funded Uber ride to transport Jessica and her family to a motel. The abuse was expected to escalate, and the police were going to serve the abuser with a restraining order, preventing him from having contact with the family. As the abuser had already engaged in severe violence towards them, Jessica was terrified about what he would do upon learning about the restraining order. Uber provided a rapid, safe, and private option to transport this family and their important personal belongings to safety. When we followed up with her, Jessica said Uber “saved us from what could have been an incredibly violent situation.” Jessica can now use Uber to travel with her family without fear.
Reliable rides, rain or shine
Larry came to The Salvation Army’s William Booth Center shortly after having his leg amputated. While he waits to receive his prosthetic, he is wheelchair-bound, making it difficult to traverse the Seattle terrain. The nearest bus stop is up a steady incline, which is exhausting on a clear day and near impossible on a rainy day. Larry has multiple upcoming medical treatments, and with public transportation becoming less of a viable option, he was worried.
Thankfully, after partaking in a grant-funded Uber ride, Larry knows he will be able to receive the care he needs. No longer will something as simple as weather determine if he can access medical attention. Rather, he can rely on Uber to transport both him and his wheelchair to wherever he needs to go. When asked about using Uber, Larry responded, “When the weather turns bad, I’ll be turning to Uber.” Larry is not one to have a physical handicap hold him back, and so he takes comfort in knowing that—rain or shine—Uber will be right outside the door.
On the road to rebuilding
Nina came to Salvation Army’s Hickman House from an out-of-state shelter to escape an abuser who had physically assaulted and terrorized her, her four young children, and extended family members. Nina now has a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by repeated strangulations and assaults. One of her children has Autism Spectrum Disorder, and all four suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Due to cognitive impairment from the TBI, Nina can no longer drive and struggles with the logistics of public transport.
With the help of the grant-funded Uber rides, Nina has managed to enroll her children in school, childcare, and remedial services as well as catch up on doctor’s and dental visits. This also gives her access to community supports that she couldn’t have received otherwise. Through assistance from The Salvation Army, after 11 months in the program, Nina found employment and has used Uber to bridge the transportation gap from her initial hire date to co-worker carpool arrangements. In addition, she has used Uber for urgent care medical visits for her children, thus avoiding the hefty costs of ambulance transport. When asked about how Uber has helped her, Nina said, “Uber has helped us get the help we need. I thank them for helping me get a job.” With no more transportation worries, Nina can now focus on her career and getting her children ready to go back to school.
Warmth on wheels
Steve comes to The Salvation Army’s William Booth Center all the way from Kansas City. Not being familiar with the Seattle area, Steve was very anxious when travelling on foot. Therefore, he began taking taxi rides to the VA Hospital and the grocery store. With each trip, Steve would owe over $80, something he was unable to afford. He then found himself in a rough situation: fall further into poverty, or travel in fear.
With the help of grant-funded Uber rides, however, Steve didn’t have to choose either path. Instead, he is able to receive direct, secure transportation to his twice-weekly hospital visits. He can count on Uber to help him arrive on time to every appointment. Additionally, he is always welcomed by the Uber drivers with warmth and kindness. When asked about his experience with Uber, Steve, smiling, stated that the rides were “a tremendous godsend.” Steve feels truly blessed to have these Uber rides available to him, and soon, he will be using them to find his own permanent housing.
Driven to independence
Pamela and her son came to Salvation Army’s Hickman House after fleeing an abusive husband who had repeatedly threatened to kill them while holding a loaded gun to her head. His tactics of power and control included forbidding her to drive, work outside the home, spend money, or go anywhere unaccompanied by him. As her husband is a local bus driver, she does not feel safe riding the bus, and she cannot afford her own car or driving lessons at this time.
Since her arrival, Pamela has used the grant-funded Uber rides to attend and access community resources. Without Uber, she wouldn’t have made the court dates, custody hearings, appointments with lawyers, and counseling sessions that will allow her to move forward in her life. The grant has empowered her with her new sense of freedom and independence. When asked about how Uber has helped her, Pamela said being able to travel by Uber “gives me what I need to feel safe.” With the help of Uber, Pamela can continue to fight for her family safely and autonomously.
The difference a driver makes
When asked how he got to the VA Hospital before Uber, Bradley responded, “I often didn’t.” Prior to coming to The Salvation Army’s William Booth Center, Bradley would have to take two buses to reach his appointments, with commutes being over an hour each way. There were other times when public transportation service would be out, or the option of a taxi ride would be too expensive. In those instances, Bradley, who suffers from chronic pain, would have to forgo medical care.
Now, Bradley can rely on grant-funded Uber rides to bring him to and from the VA Hospital. He even has the app on his personal phone, and he takes comfort in tracking his rides. Bradley looks forward to every Uber trip thanks to the friendly nature of the drivers he has encountered. When asked how Uber has helped him, he said, “It’s a nice way to get around. Uber drivers are so kind, and that makes all the difference.” Bradley dreams of one day owning a car of his own, but until then, Uber is “a great blessing.”
In 2018, the Uber NW Community Impact Initiative has donated over $600,000 in financial assistance and rides to 45+ nonprofits across the region. For more information, visit t.uber.com/communityimpact.
These stories were provided by Seattle Uber NW Community Initiative partner The Salvation Army Northwest. The names in this story have been altered to protect privacy.