Chocolate cake and root beer floats make their way around the break room. Employees gather in to wish Cristi Morrow a happy early birthday before she begins her graveyard shift in the C-TRAN Maintenance department. But this isn’t the first time Morrow has celebrated her birthday at C-TRAN. She has been with the agency for more than 20 years.
Morrow, along with three other C-TRAN employees—Shawn Lorang, Doug McPherson, and Karl Clark—are all part of a long-standing partnership between C-TRAN and other local organizations that provides job opportunities for workers with special needs. And in this case, C-TRAN is the perfect fit.
Morrow, Lorang, McPherson and Clark are janitor/hostlers tasked with deep cleaning the buses, which is something each of them love to do. They come to work smiling and happy every night, and are such hard workers that they often have to be reminded to take vacation. “They are an inspiration to all of us, each and every one of them, in different ways” says Glenn Hanning, a fleet maintenance supervisor at C-TRAN. The team atmosphere is something that stands out the most between them, he says.
When asked what her favorite thing about working for C-TRAN is, Morrow emphasizes that she loves to help other employees. She also loves cleaning new buses and attending various C-TRAN events. Morrow has a tremendous amount of pride in what she does. She rides the bus to work almost every day, and wants to make sure the buses are clean for the drivers and riders. Every week, Job Coach April Burton visits during the graveyard shift to check in and help if needed.
Burton has been a job coach for more than two years, and has 15 different clients at various employers. Three of them—Morrow, Lorang and McPherson—work at C-TRAN. (Clark works with a different job coach.) Burton often notices how well C-TRAN employees work along-side her clients. “They are friendly and help when my clients need it, when I can’t be there, and that is really important,” she says. McPherson and Lorang also clean the buses and are visited by Burton during the week.
Lorang has worked at C-TRAN for more than 20 years; McPherson has been a part of the team for almost five years; and Clark has been at C-TRAN for more than 25 years. “They are probably the most committed people we have in our workforce,” says fleet maintenance supervisor Kory Liedtke. “They actually care. They look at us as compadres, and I look at them the same way. They lighten the mood around here.”
Each worker shows their dedication and personality in different ways. Recently, McPherson was on vacation and was more worried about work and who would do his job, a true testimony to his commitment. Clark loves sports, and will talk about them all day. The Portland Trailblazers are his favorite basketball team, and Damian Lillard is his favorite player. Sports has created a strong bond between him and his job coach, Christina Jacobson, who has been working with Clark for about two years.
Other maintenance workers say the janitor/hostler crew exemplifies the true meaning of hard work and commitment.
“We all have our challenges. They’re just challenged a little more than the rest of us,” Hanning says. “Seeing them here every day, doing an outstanding job…that’s felt across the board to every employee here.”