New Bus With ADA Lift Makes Transportation Accessible to More Youth
On Monday, May 13, 2019, Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County unveiled a brand new, ADA accessible Club bus to Club youth, staff, and board members at BGCEC’s Goshen Clubhouse. In keeping with Boys & Girls Clubs values of equity and inclusion, this new vehicle makes Club-provided transportation accessible to more children, allowing greater participation in field trips and outings. The new bus, an Odyssey XL model from Turtle Top, with a Ford F550 chassis, is a gift from the Theda & Tamblin Clark Smith Family Foundation.
Youth who participate in Boys & Girls Club programs are also able to expand their horizons outside of the Club through field trips and outings that, for many of them, are first-time experiences. These experiences can spark a passion for art, culture, history, or service that opens a young person’s eyes to new possibilities and opportunities. Various trips are taken each year and can be simply to the local pool for hours of swimming on a hot summer day or thousands of miles away to learn the history of our nation while taking in the sites of Washington DC.
Previous trip destinations have included local zoos, museums, professional sporting events, local businesses, farms, and many more. Trips taken out of state have been to Boston and Washington DC to learn about our nation’s history, service trips to Florida and Mississippi, and even an art retreat to Gatlinburg. Each trip, whether close by or thousands of miles from home, have been life-changing for many of our members. The addition of an ADA accessible bus allows even more young people to experience these exceptional trips and outings and offers a greater sense of community to all members, as well as the Club team and volunteers leading our youth on new adventures.
The bus was designed by Turtle Top, a New Paris-based manufacturer specializing in small to mid-sized buses, with help from Eby Ford, which made the chassis, and Scott Signs, which created the graphics for the bus. Through Turtle Top, multiple members of the Cripe family gave financially to the project as well, including company owners Bob, Betty, Dick, Carolyn, Vicki, and Rob. Generous funding for the bus was also provided by the Theda & Tamblin Clark Smith Family Foundation.
It is humbling to see a community come together to help make a dream reality. We are incredibly grateful to our friends – the Cripe Family, Turtle Top, and the Theda & Tamblin Clark Smith Family Foundation who, because of their passion for giving back to the community, generously made this ADA accessible bus possible. Boys & Girls Club members were ecstatic when they learned about their new ride and the new opportunities that will be made available to them. It is so wonderful to see our community come together to improve the lives of the children of Elkhart County.