Whitesburg Baptist Church
Sunday, May 19, 2013
3. A Typical Day On the Bus
Prep Work: The success and failure of our Bus Ministry hinges on what happens before Sunday morning. Every week, typically on Saturday (even during college football season!), Steve Pitts visits his four routes. Steve has been visiting for over 20 years now and at last count had 8,167 names of rider’s he’s personally contacted in that time. Now…I considered myself to be in decent physical condition before I tried to keep up with Steve as he visits on his bike in the summer times. More times than not, Steve is already handing the rider the flyer by the time I coast up to the door. But when Steve’s handing out well over 200 flyers a week, there’s not a lot of time to waste. Each flyer he hands out has a verse from the Bible and his personal cell phone number. If the rider memorizes the verse before we arrive at Pulaski Pike they receive a slice of pizza as we drop them off after church, but we’ll talk more about that later.
In addition to Steve’s hard work on Saturday, our mechanic, David Bedard arrives hours before anyone else on Sunday mornings and goes over each of our buses as well as the shuttles to make sure that each will start and run.
9:00am- Drivers and Bus volunteers begin to arrive. Because of the variation of length and location of each route, each bus leaves at a pre-determined time. Also by now, Steve is already receiving calls from kids and parents and adults letting him know of changes to the route such as new pickups and cancellations. He then debriefs each driver on the changes for the day. My route doesn’t change too often because we pick up mostly government housing riders.
9:30am- My turn to leave. My volunteers on Bus “B” are Christine Causey (my mom), and Zach Carter. They will do some sweeping and straightening on the bus while I go around and do the walk-around safety check.
9:40am- We arrive at our first stop on 13th Street off Governors Dr. and our morning officially starts as we pick up 6 year old Ferandis and his 7 year old sister Jamaria. As they get on they are greeted with a hug from my mom and a colored wristband. Each bus has a distinct wristband that serves 3 main purposes. To make sure our younger riders do not get on the wrong bus, it serves as their “meal ticket” for breakfast, and it distinguishes our kids from those who come to Pulaski with their family in their own car.
9:40am-10:40am- After 13th St. we make between 25-30 more stops. Some highlights of “B” route include stops in Mason Court where we can pick up in excess of 20 riders, on Union where 8-10 children pour out of a house the size of most people’s garage and on Meadow where we pick up a 13 year old boy named Dominique who has all 20+ flyer verses committed to heart.
10:45am- Buses begin to arrive at Pulaski and kids begin to pour into our gym where a group of volunteers waits to give them their breakfast. Each child has a smiley face drawn on their hand to ensure everyone is fed before seconds are given out. The food isn’t fancy but for the majority it’s much needed and for some it’s the first full meal since Friday at school. It doesn’t take long before the food kicks in and the kids get energetic. Typically, a game of tag evolves and to the casual observer it might seem as if we’re letting them run wild in the gym. But we have to remember, most of these kids live in 300 sq. ft. homes and once a week they’re in a nice warm gym with a full belly and they’re excited!
11:15am- We begin to dismiss children from the gym to their classrooms. This takes some time and patience but within 5-7 minutes most kids are in their classrooms.
11:15am-12:15pm- This is our classroom time. We have 12 classrooms, most packed to capacity, where we have Sunday School time. This is where the rubber meets the road. During this hour is when our faithful teachers and helpers teach ages 4 to Adult how to follow Christ.
12:15pm- Classes dismiss and we herd everyone outside to the buses.
12:20ish- Every bus does a head count and rolls out to take the riders home. Those who memorized the verse Steve handed out are rewarded with a slice of pizza as they get off the bus. Those having a birthday that week are given a slice of pizza, Pepsi, and a Snickers as a small birthday present.
1:00-2:00- Buses return to the Martha Fleming Center and we’ve successfully ministered to an average of 289 riders (at the time of writing this article).