Whether it’s providing food through their monthly food bank or emergency shelter for families facing homelessness, Everett-based Millennia Ministries helps people in Snohomish County move from surviving to thriving. Millennia Ministries was awarded a 15-passenger van in 2020 through Community Transit’s Van GO program, and the vehicle has quickly helped with the many services they provide to people each day.
Vans reaching the end of their service life with Community Transit’s Vanpool shared commute program can get a second chance to make a difference in the community by being awarded to local nonprofit organizations. Community Transit’s Van GO competitive grant program launched in 2000 and has since awarded 158 vans and wheelchair lift-equipped paratransit vehicles to qualified 501(c)3 organizations throughout Snohomish County.
“We serve those who are in crisis due to homelessness, from a lack of resources, and hunger. We help homeless mothers, children, and families find permanent housing. We partner with several other coalitions to put them in hotels until they can find more permanent housing, to help improve children’s attendance in school, and to offer a stable environment. Our goal isn’t just to provide resources, but stability,” says Millennia Ministries Executive Director Leilani Miller.
“We also feed and provide groceries for over 800 seniors and families in transition throughout the month. Often, these seniors aren’t eligible for Meals on Wheels or food stamps. Many are on a fixed income and rely on us to help to supplement their groceries,” says Miller.
Now, says Miller, thanks to the Van GO program, they are better able to provide help and stability for those people they serve.
“We were doing this out of volunteer cars before we were granted the van,” says Miller.
“People have needed more help during this pandemic, particularly the seniors we serve,” she says, explaining how the increased needs during the pandemic spurred volunteers to map out delivery routes by area to help maximize the efficiency of their deliveries. “Many people were isolated, and couldn’t get out easily during the shutdowns. Being able to deliver food was crucial for helping them. They would call and ask ‘Are you coming? Are you coming?’ We had to step up the work we did. The van helped us do more when people needed us most.”
The van also helps them serve various needs across the many programs Millennia Ministries runs.
“We do a lot. We have a clothing bank, tutoring, we teach budgeting and life skills, credit repair, and all those things people need to move from surviving to thriving,” says Miller.
The van has helped deliver supplies to different shelters that house women and children through the YWCA. It has also been used to shuttle volunteers to different events, such as “Bless the Block,” a monthly event providing groceries to anyone who needs them from neighborhood churches.
“We can do more when we have more, and the van has helped us do more,” says Miller.
Community Transit plans to grant more vehicles to local nonprofit organizations later this year. Do you know of a local organization doing important work in our community? Share this opportunity with them so they can apply when we begin taking applications: visit communitytransit.org/vango to learn more.