Project Manager David Serby and his team of mobility managers; Pleon Ampornpet, Alicia Morales Rodriguez, and Sterling Mayes (pictured left to right) give us insight on what it’s like to be a part of 211 LA’s Mobility team. The team works both on and off site with Pleon in the North Hollywood and Downtown area, Alicia in the El Monte and Downey region, and Sterling working directly from the LAX airport and Carson locations.
The mobility project began when 211 LA was awarded a grant from LA Metro to help low income individuals gain and maintain job opportunities. The mobility team works alongside different entities such as Los Angeles County Department of Social Services (DPSS) and LA County Office of Education (LACOE) that equip Greater Avenues for Independence Networks (GAIN) low income job club participants with the necessary tools for employment such as resume building, motivation, interview skills, job fair skills, demystifying the transportation system and much more.
The team emphasized the importance of sustainability when it comes to transportation. Pleon explains, "With a lot of people, they don't have a reliable means of transportation in order to look for a job and maintain that job, so when we tell them that we’re providing you with transportation until you get stable it's a big relief for them."
A typical day of work consists of data entry, scheduling transportation trips, and giving presentations for new classes of GAIN participants. Alicia mentions that, “knowledge is power” and the heart of a Mobility Manager’s work is informing people. She also reminded us of how valuable it can be to take a step back and realize that not everyone can readily rely on GPS, not everyone knows how to read a map, navigate bus routes and sometimes the bus takes you a mile from where you need to be. David provides insight by saying, "The transportation systems in LA County are complicated. They're complicated for me. . . If I had the added pressure of going to something like a job interview where if I'm not there in time and I miss the interview, that means something not only to me but also my family, and that’s a lot of pressure."
Most participants come from low socioeconomic status where transportation and employment are not the only problems. Luckily, this team is able to be a voice for 211 and further advocate for the client’s needs. Sterling elaborates, "There was one client that I did a presentation for, and she came to my office after about a housing situation. I connected her with one of our Family Solutions Center coordinators and her housing situation went from verging on homelessness to completely getting back into the building."
Since the program's inception in 2015, over 15,793 trips have been provided to GAIN job club members seeking employment. 211’s Mobility team is empowering low income individuals in LA County connect to employment by their innovation, emphasis on sustainability, networking and informing.