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Easy Lift Transportation Honored as State Transit Leader
Local nonprofit organization Easy Lift Transportation has received the high honor of “Top Paratransit” for California at the recent statewide California Association of Coordinated Transportation Conference in Lake Tahoe. This award reveres transit programs focused on serving frail seniors and people living with severe disabilities. This is the first such honor for Easy Lift, now in its 39th year serving south Santa Barbara County. Easy Lift was recognized for its programmatic efficiency, innovative transit solutions, financial stability, and community collaboration.
Widely known for its Dial-A-Ride program, started by the local Easter Seals chapter and Community Action Commission, Easy Lift has flourished to become a focal community transit resource with multiple services. Programs like Children’s Accessible Transportation provide free and low cost transit to other nonprofit organizations with limited means to offer their own transit options. This program, in partnership with the Orfalea Foundation and supported by Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, has provided over 50,000 rides, saving other nonprofits tens of thousands of dollars which can rather be put into scholarships and programs expenses. “We are unbelievably grateful to Ernesto and to the Easy Lift staff. They helped us launch our EUREKA Program providing our girls transportation from Carpinteria to UCSB every day for six weeks each summer, exposing them to the riches of higher education,” shared Girls Inc of Carpinteria Executive Director Victoria Juarez.
Executive Director Ernesto Paredes, now in his 23rd year with the organization, emphasizes the strength of community partners and supporters, citing the 1990s as a particularly transitional time for the organization. “The Americans with Disabilities Act had just passed, but fortunately partners like MTD and Montecito Bank and Trust were there, and are still important partners today.” Paredes adds “Our strength as an organization is our drivers. They have to be some of the most caring and compassionate individuals I have ever met. I would trust any of our drivers to transport my own mother, and they do!”
In 2019, Easy Lift will both celebrate its 40th anniversary and launch new initiatives, programs and services which will continue to address the continuous developments in transportation like Uber, Lyft, driverless cars, drones, to improve access to healthcare and programs serving people who are food insecure.
The award was presented by the California Association for Coordinated Transportation (CALACT).