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People for People aiding local folks

Need a ride to Yakima or to the Tri-Cities? The People for People connector bus may be just the ticket. Need training for a livable wage job? People for People can help. It's a mission the agency has addressed and expanded upon for the past three decades.

Even though the Lower Valley doesn't have what can be called a public transit system, the People for People transportation system is the next best thing.

Since 1982, the non-profit agency has been providing transportation to county residents with special needs, according to Chris Fix, the director of People for People's transportation system.

It's well known that People for People provides transportation for Medicaid clients, but what is not as well known is that the agency also provides general transportation services throughout Yakima, Adams and Lincoln counties for those seeking jobs or training opportunities.

As a result of the connector bus service, in 2003 People for People was able to provide a total of 553,282 rides, many of which were for clients in the Lower Valley, said Fix.

He said daily buses transport clients from Union Gap to Prosser. "In addition, we connect riders with the Yakima transit system and the Ben Franklin transit system," he explained.

"We have regular stops in Sunnyside, Grandview, Granger, Zillah, Toppenish and Wapato," he explained.

Fix said the Washington State Worksource office in the Mid Valley Mall is a designated bus stop in Sunnyside. The Grandview Post Office is another stop on the bus's Lower Valley route.

In addition to providing rides for medical appointments and jobs, People for People also assists job seekers with employment training and literacy classes, said Cindy Maib-Robinson, director of the agency's employment training programs.

Last year, People for People helped more than 300 Lower Valley residents with job searches, training and child care, Robinson said.

The agency, which has a job training and employment placement agreement with Worksource, worked with 115 Yakima County employers to meet their hiring and training needs, she added.

Robinson said the agency provides training and employment support to disabled persons, as well as persons coming off of public assistance and into the work force for the first time.

"Our training includes everything from literacy classes to pre-employment skills and even driver's licenses reinstatement courses," she explained.

Robinson said the aim of People for People training programs is part of an effort to break the cycle of poverty in communities within the agency's service area.

"We are trying to provide people with the opportunity to become self-sufficient by giving them marketable skills," she said.

People for People is in its 38th year of providing community services to residents of Central Washington. Robinson said the agency is funded by state and federal sources, including Workforce Investment Act and Community Jobs funds.

"We're working to help people overcome the hurdles preventing them from getting jobs and getting to their jobs," she said.

. Julia Hart can be contacted at

(509) 837-4500, or you can e-mail her at jhart@eaglenewspapers.com

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