“Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another.”—Newspaper columnist and humorist Erma Bombeck
Scholarships help students get to school and serve their community
Local students are earning a “free ride” in return for their selfless volunteer work.
Beaumont High School students Gilbert Salinas and Willisa Simpson get free, monthly bus passes from the City for their community service. Their reward for volunteerism is part of Beaumont’s innovative Transit Scholarship program.
For the young bus riders, the bus passes provide a quick, easy, and convenient way to get to and from school or anywhere in the Pass. When they flash their bus pass and hop on board, students are also learning about the importance and need for expanding public transportation.
Last year, Salinas rode his bicycle from south of the freeway to Beaumont High—a round trip of 8 ½ miles. It was good exercise, but now the teen enjoys riding the bus in air-conditioned comfort with his friends.
“The Transit Scholarship program is helping students, parents and the community,” Salinas said. “I’m very grateful to the City of Beaumont for this opportunity to give back to my hometown.”
As the City of Beaumont’s first Transit Scholarship recipients, Salinas and Simpson are pioneering a new wave of youth volunteerism in town. These dedicated contributions to civic life are quickly winning praise.
“The transportation needs of our young people are very important,” said Mayor Roger Berg. “With the Transit Scholarship program, we can help meet those needs and enhance our city through community service.”
In 2004, Beaumont began its leadership role in public transportation by joining forces with neighboring Banning to create a seamless, regional bus system. It was a far-sighted move.
Salinas and Simpson, along with so many local students, benefit from Beaumont’s visionary approach to public transportation. The two students came highly recommended to Beaumont High’s Transit Scholarship program.
On campus, Salinas is an active volunteer in Beaumont High’s Teen Suicide Awareness Campaign. In a recommendation letter, Counselor Yolanda Lopez described him as “an active participant in the classroom and an enthusiastic friend to everyone around him.”
Simpson is a member of the National Honor Society, a student leader in the FHA—Hero program and a Beaumont High culinary arts student. The California Association FHA—Hero program is sponsored by Home Economics Careers and Technology Programs, California Department of Education.
In a recommendation letter, Social Studies teacher Harvey Albert lauded Simpson as a student who “always demonstrates a strong work ethic, a good collaborative technique, and is a well-organized individual.”
The teenagers have surveyed bus riders about the latest route, worked on the Winter Wish program and helped collect food donations.
Serving your community
With students and the community in mind, Beaumont makes public transportation a high priority in a city where about 165,500 riders a year take the bus.
“Beaumont Transit has really stepped up and gone above and beyond to meet the needs of our students,” said Beaumont High School Counselor Yolanda Lopez.
The city’s flexible bus schedule, affordable fares, and on-time service helps Beaumont High students enjoy a full academic and extracurricular experience. Public transportation is a great way for students to get around. They can hop aboard and go to the movies or take the bus to work or shop at the outlet malls in Cabazon. The regular monthly youth pass is $23.50, and students can get to school, work and around town to see their friends. Buses arrive shortly after 7 a.m. at Beaumont High, and the last bus pick up is about 5:30 p.m.
To be eligible for a Transit Scholarship for a free bus pass, middle school and high school students must:
- Complete two hours of pre-approved community service each month for the city, service clubs, or church groups.
- Attend a half-hour meeting each month to review their community service work.
- Earn passing grades.
- Live in Beaumont.
Last year, a successful pilot program for transit scholarships began with two students. This year, Salinas and Simpson were awarded bus passes for outstanding community service and academic performance. In the future, the City hopes to award more passes to young people committed to volunteerism.
The program has shown that students who want to serve their city, get to school on-time, and save money can do that through volunteer work and a transit scholarship. All families, regardless of income, are eligible. Scholarship applications for next fall’s program must be filed by July 31 and are available online at www.ci.beaumont.ca.us or can be picked up at the Beaumont Civic Center, 550 E. Sixth St.