When Gabby Weisinger found herself in legal trouble, she had limited options.
Because she is a minor, Youth Services of Tulsa has a program that can help her be accountable and take care of the associated costs so that she isn’t burdened by her mistake as she transitions into adulthood.
The only catch is the 17-year-old Broken Arrow Alternative Academy student doesn’t have her own transportation, and the program she needs to attend is in Tulsa.
A new volunteer-driver program is making sure she can get where she needs to go and create some new connections on the way.
Modus is a nonprofit program that partners with local agencies to provide transportation to their young clients.
Nearly 6,400 — or 16 percent — of area youths don’t have access to the services they need to succeed.
“They can’t get to clinics or job training or school enrollment or counseling,” said Leslie Neal, executive director.
Modus is a volunteer-based transportation service somewhat like Uber, where volunteers use their own cars to provide rides by accessing a platform that lists transportation needs.
“It’s so nice to know that I am in control,” Weisinger said. “Without this transportation, I would have been completely lost.”
The Modus platform also provides volunteers with the flexibility to give as few or as many rides as they want.
Kathy Clarke, for example, provides Weisinger with a ride on her way to and from work once a week.
“You are able to select a time frame that’s conducive to your schedule,” she said. “They are so grateful.”
Volunteers must be 21, have a reliable vehicle, pass a background check and participate in an interview.
The past year has been spent implementing the program on a smaller scale. The program provides about 120 rides per month.
The goal for the next year is to provide 5,000 rides and eventually grow to where it provides about 15,000 rides annually.
Modus currently partners with five agencies and would like to add several more area nonprofits.
“Transportation is something that affects everyone’s life so much without them knowing,” Neal said. “This is a way to set people up to be more independent. By allowing them to access the services that the city already has, we are setting them up for success.”
Another aspect of the nonprofit is ModusEd, where the agency staff provides students in Tulsa Public Schools with information about how to use public transportation.
The in-class program teaches students how to navigate the bus system using technology.
“We can’t get them to their job every day after we help them with job training. This helps them become more independent through mobility,” Neal said.
Since starting the education program in August last year, there has been an increase in TPS ridership of 29 percent.