Susan Gettum is the customer care manager at TARTA. When TARTA opened its Transit Hub back up to the public in September of 2021, Gettum began to look at the large waiting area, wondering what she could do with the space.
“I was looking around at transits used across the country, and many were using their spaces for [outreach]. They were inviting other groups to come in and hand out information about their services. I looked around Toledo, and there are so many organizations that are already doing great work,” Gettum said
This is how the Hub of Hope Initiative, officially begun in November 2021, was born. The program gives local organizations a space to reach out to the public who need their services.
“It’s been incredibly successful, and very fun to do. Our first Hub of Hope (…) was the Lucas County Toledo Library’s Ready to Read program. They are a great partner and have come back several times since.” Gettum herself is the ambassador of the Hub of Hope, setting up groups with a table and chairs.
Since the first program, other groups have come to take advantage of the chance to outreach— programs such as Cherry St. Mission’s workforce, the Area Office on Aging, Lucas County OhioMeansJobs, Food for Thought, and the Lucas County Board of Developmental disabilities. Even Mercy Health has booked a time for blood pressure screenings.
These groups talk about a wide range of topics, from how to get a job, family services, health and proper nutrition, to getting your kids prepared to read for their first day of kindergarten. Many customers don’t even realize that these free services are available to them and learn about it all through TARTA’s Hub of Hope.
“To be able to say to them, there are places here that can help you when you are ready, it’s really great. So it’s all about programs already in place. Services can come to the hub for a couple of hours and talk about their outreach. It’s been really successful.
“One of the main ones that really hit home was the Human Trafficking Coalition Committee,” said Gettum. The committee stayed most of the day, showing people how to recognize human trafficking. “It’s not just someone promising something, it’s someone who is actually doing [it]. That’s the kind of partners we like to work with, (…) the kind of stakeholders we have.”
Groups can bring laptops to register people for the classes or services they provide.
Customers have told Gettum that it is a very positive experience for them. “I think one of the great signs of success is that we’ve had booths come back. If one person finds something that will help them in whatever situation they are in,” said Gettum.
Her long-term goal is to have people recognize the words “Hub of Hope” and associate it with TARTA iself, emphasizing that the company is all about community. Gettum continues to reach out farther into Lucas County, hoping to expand the hub. She made it clear that groups aren’t there to sell, just to help others and offer their free services.
“Any way we can service them is really important to us. And to have that support internally, really spe
aks to the passion TARTA has for the community.” TARTA’s CEO Laura Koprowski, senior management, and on down have embraced the Hub of Hope, wanting to expand a sense of togetherness within the community.