On the Road to Independence

Thriver Beth Donahue and MWRTA’s Carl Damigella getting ready for a practice run on the MWRTA bus.

We all strive to do things on our own and live independently. Thrive participant Beth Donahue is no different. From a young age, Beth has always blazed her own path. Now, at the age of 27, and on the verge of finishing her college studies, she is looking to spread her wings and forge her unique path as an adult. Her first step, get from here to there without help from her family or as Thrive calls it “transportation independence.”

With guidance from Thrive Support & Advocacy’s family support team and Carl Damigella, Director of Community Relations and Outreach for the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA), Beth is well on her way to achieving her dream. Her end goal is to live independently and use public transportation to commute to work, the grocery store, and other significant locations of everyday life. A patron of MWRTA’s Dial-A-Ride service, Beth is already familiar with some of the organization’s services. MWRTA’s Dial-a-ride offers to pick up and drop off services based on reserving your time and locations a day or so in advance. Currently, Beth uses this service to get to and from work.

Beth’s next big step, to begin using the MWRTA fixed route buses. The buses offer 14 fixed routes servicing 16 member communities. The MWRTA, specifically Carl Damigella and his co-worker Ieshia Price, arrange travel training for anyone over 13 years of age who wants to learn to ride the bus. Damigella and Price provide training to anyone who needs a helping hand navigating the system. The two are working closely with Beth to help her master specific routes. Beth explained, “Carl has been teaching me how to read the schedule of the fixed routes, look for bus stops, and read the signs on the bus that says where it is going. He has shown the many places I can get to just by learning how to use public transportation.  I am so excited!”

So far Beth’s experience has been extremely positive. “Everyone from the MWRTA is really helpful,” she shared. After meeting a few times to review logistics, Carl will be spending the next few meetings riding the buses with Beth so she can get some hands-on training. They will also cover issues such as walking to and from the bus stops and crossing roads to get to the stops. Once Beth masters these skills she will execute test runs on her most essential routes then be set to travel on her own. As needs arise Beth will have continued support from Damigella and Price. With their help, she is well on her way to taking the first step in reaching her goal of living independently.  If you are interested in taking part in this program, contact familysupport@icanthrive.org/.