$2 a Mile Campaign: Help Vector Industries keep the buses running

afp - vector logo 3Every weekday, three buses travel out from Vector Industries across Waynesboro, Staunton and Augusta County to pick up employees.

More than half of the 70 employees at Vector, a unique nonprofit business that employs and trains persons with diverse disabilities to enable them to reach their potential as productive community members, wouldn’t be able to get to work without the bus rides.

“They pick me up at my door early in the morning. I like to get out here and get to work. Without the transportation, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Vector employee Archie Kestner, who has been with the company since 1990.

This all comes at a steep cost to Vector, which spends more than $90,000 a year to keep the buses running, roughly $2 per mile.

“Each year, Vector Industries loses between $40,000 and $60,000 on our transportation program. And that’s in spite of any type funding we might receive and the small portion that our employees bear the cost of. We need some help,” Vector President and CEO Chrissy Johnston said.

2milephotoVector is launching the $2 a Mile Campaign to try to bridge the gap on the costs for the transportation program and help employees like Erica Johnson get to work every day.

“This is more than a job. It’s family. I couldn’t get to work without the bus,” said Johnson.

Her story is common among the employee population at Vector Industries.

“Without the transportation, a lot of these folks would not be able to come to work. And coming to work is super important to them. It provides them with pride, purpose and a paycheck,” said Cheryl Moran, director of human resources at Vector.

Kevin Mitchell was unemployed for a long period of time before getting his job at Vector Industries.

“I applied everywhere, and this job has given me such an opportunity. Transportation allows me a back-and-forth way to work,” Mitchell said.

John Sobczak said if he wasn’t at Vector, “I’d probably still be wandering around trying to find a place to live, trying to find my disability. I’d be having a hard time on my own,” Sobczak said.

Vector Industries has set a $50,000 goal for the $2 a Mile Campaign for 2016. Johnston concedes that it is an ambitious goal.

“We feel that we have a great community. You’ve supported us in the past, and we ask for your support in the future, at two dollars a mile,” Johnston said.

For more information, visit www.vectorindustries.org/2mile