Intercity Transit’s Village Vans helps job-seekers

Everyone is familiar with the big Intercity Transit buses that ply city and county roads.

But Intercity Transit has other transportation offerings that are not as well known, among them is Village Vans.

The program provides rides to interviews, training, resource centers or a new job because transportation is often one of the biggest obstacles for people looking for work.

Village Vans has an annual budget of $250,000 and is funded by federal and state grants, said IT spokeswoman Kris Fransen, who added the program operates in partnership with local social and public service agencies.

It also offers job training, including résumé writing, interview skills and on-the-job training as a van driver.

“Ninety percent of our fully participating volunteers find employment,” Fransen said of the job training program.

For David Brandon, 54, becoming a volunteer Village Van driver has had several benefits.

“I feel like I’m still doing something, providing a service” while continuing to look for work, Brandon said. “And, I can put down professional driver on my résumé.”

Brandon, who has been out of work more than six months, was last employed as manager of a game store. When he applied for unemployment benefits and began his job search, he found that his résumé was out of date and his interview skills were rusty. Training offered through Village Vans brought his job-search skills up to date.

For instance, he said, his résumé was too long and contained too much information on personal interests.

“They provide nice paper, printing and a letter of recommendation,” he said.

The transportation service provides about 5,500 trips a year for 250 job-seekers, Fransen said. Transportation is supplied to any job-related activity until clients are able to provide their own transportation.

Van drivers are recruited from several employment support programs including the WorkFirst Community Jobs work-training program, the South Puget Sound Community College Customized Job Skills Training Course and the Senior Community Service Employment Programs at WorkSource.

Another 60 to 80 people are getting training in the job skills program, Fransen said.