Passion for Buses Fuels QC Member's Success
at Mountain Line

Welcome to QC Enews Empowerment

Often, our role at Quality Connections is to convince local businesses and organizations to give individuals with disabilities a chance. By making usually minor accommodations, those employers will typically be rewarded with tremendously hardworking and loyal staff members.

Then there’s the times when an employer reaches out to us because they’ve discovered a person with disabilities that they know will be a tremendous asset to their business. They just need someone to help with training.

That’s what happened when a young man named Jordan impressed everyone with his passion for public transportation.

As we celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I hope you enjoy reading about Jordan’s journey to becoming a valued employee at Mountain Line.

– Armando Bernasconi,
Co-Founder and CEO

How Jordan Landed His Dream Job

Jordan has always loved buses.

Actually, he’s a fan of all forms of public transportation, including planes, trains, and heavy equipment – but buses seem to hold a special place in his heart.

Maybe it’s a family thing; several of Jordan’s relatives have spent time behind the wheel of buses, including his paternal  grandmother, who drove a school bus for Flagstaff Unified School District for 21 years.

Or it could have started when he began amassing toy buses as a kid, a collection that would grow to 52 vehicles.

About a year ago, Jordan’s parents reached out to Quality Connections to access our work training programs and help Jordan, who has autism, secure a job.

They weren’t sure if their son could achieve his dream position – working for Mountain Line, the local public transit agency – but perhaps he could find work that would engage his enthusiasm and attention to detail.

What they did not know was that Jordan had already started to gain a reputation with Mountain Line employees.

Jordan had befriended many of the bus drivers he met while riding the bus,” his father, Skott Goodwin said. “He got to know all of them and would share his knowledge and passion for buses with them.”

Those conversations demonstrated Jordan’s detailed knowledge about all the buses in the Mountain Line fleet. He can talk extensively and expertly about the pros and cons of diesels, hybrids, electric vehicles, and the New Flyer articulated long buses.  

Eventually, executives at Mountain Line learned about Jordan and reached out to Quality Connections Director of Employment Services Allie Lunsford. They wanted to create a position for Jordan at the public transit agency to help keep their buses clean, they said. They asked if Quality Connections could help with training. 

Jordan’s mother, Mable Goodwin, a retired special education teacher, said the position was a perfect fit for Jordan.

“Some of the characteristics of being on the [autism] spectrum are real strengths in the workplace,” she said. “He can really focus and stay on task. He enjoys order and for everything to be just so.” 

These qualities helped Jordan develop into the great worker he is today. His family shares that Jordan’s previous experience working at Mission Linen helped prepare him to seize the opportunity with Mountain Line. In fact, Jordan did so well at Mission Linen, that they have continued employing workers with disabilities in their operation, and fully supported his transition to working at Mountain Line.

Each work day, armed with a variety of products, Jordan cleans and sanitizes the interior surfaces of the Paratransit vans and buses. He also details the large articulated buses, and helps with deep cleaning – doing his part to help Mountain Line vehicles remain in operation for an impressive 15 years or 600,000 miles.

He’s won rave reviews for his work, according to Mountain Line CEO and General Manager Heather Dalmolin, who is also a member of the Quality Connections board of directors. 

“Jordan brings unparalleled enthusiasm and positive energy to the workplace,” she said. “He is a conscientious and detail-oriented employee, and he is respected by his co-workers.”

Savannah Encizo of Quality Connections, who has been working with Jordan to develop some specific skills for his work at Mountain Line, says it’s been a privilege watching him grow with the company over the past eight months.

“The most memorable experience I’ve had with Jordan was when he finally got his work uniforms,” she said. “For weeks, he had been waiting for them to come in. Once they were finally in his hands, he went around showing everyone his uniform before starting his shift. The smile on his face was the biggest I had seen. He radiated pride. To say that I am blessed to have witnessed Jordan’s journey over the past year is an understatement.”

Now Jordan has his eye on a new position at Mountain Line.

“He hopes to one day learn from the mechanics so that he can apply for the mechanical assistant position,” said Allie Lunsford, “and that’s a goal we are slowly working towards.”

Skott Goodwin said that people like his son who have cognitive disabilities often live in the “world of no,” where people underestimating their abilities when it comes to work.

“Employers like Mountain Line and Mission Linen and organizations like Quality Connections change that world,” he said. “We are so grateful to everyone who had a hand in this venture.”

Mountain Line: Providing a 'Vital Connection'

One of the services that many of our Quality Connections members rely on for their work and more is the transportation provided by the Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority’s Mountain Line fixed bus routes and Mountain Line Paratransit.

All Mountain Line buses are equipped with a ramp for easy wheelchair access, and an area on the bus where wheelchairs can be safely and quickly secured. For passengers boarding with a walker, cane, or stroller, the bus can “kneel” to minimize the step up onto the bus. Personal Care Attendants accompanying a passenger with disabilities may ride without charge.

As part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Federal Transit Authority, Mountain Lift provides what is known as an “ADA Guaranteed Ride Area,” which is a paratransit service that mirrors its fixed route bus service.

Only available to those with disabilities who cannot ride fixed-route buses, Mountain Lift is a direct origin-to-destination shared-ride program, with multiple trips grouped together to provide the most service to the most people.

“Mountain Line is proud to serve as the transportation solution that connects so many people living with disabilities to their jobs,” said Heather Dalmolin, CEO and General Manager of Mountain Line and Mountain Lift. We are honored to serve this community on both our fixed route buses and our paratransit system, offering independence and a vital connection to the workforce.”

For more information about Mountain Lift, check out this guide.

We need Quality Connections . . . like you!

You can help individuals with disabilities become independent and productive members of our community. There are many way to be a ‘Quality Connection’ and get involved and all of them are important:

Every purchase from QC Office equals employment and job training opportunities for a person with disabilities.

Enable a person with disabilities to become a productive member of our community.

You’ll be doing good. Plus, you’ll get a dollar-for-dollar credit on your AZ state taxes (up to $800!)

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