March 18 is Transit Driver Appreciation Day. Via’s drivers are at the heart of our service. They provide supportive and caring transportation for seniors and people with disabilities. For long hours they offer door-to-door assistance to our riders, maintaining a tight schedule, chatting with riders, and all while safely maneuvering through unpredictable traffic, adverse weather conditions and some really tight spaces!
Charlie Fichman, a driver since 2001, exemplifies the dedicated, compassionate and hard-working drivers at Via. Charlie left his lucrative career in the hospitality industry in search of work with a more fulfilling purpose. He found that Via’s values of service and compassion mirrored his own.
Charlie’s experience with Via is unique because he’s also been a rider. After hip replacement surgery, a serious fall requiring three hip revisions and a long stint in a rehab facility, Charlie couldn’t walk, let alone drive. He became a Via rider in order to get to physical therapy and medical appointments.
“Without Via, I would have been trapped at home, unable to get to rehab, get groceries or meet a friend for lunch. That period of recovery time would have been impossible without Via’s help,” he said.
Charlie recovered and returned to Via as a driver, initially only on Sundays to drive folks to church. Today he drives for Via four days a week and serves as a driver-trainer, imparting his values and those of Via to new employees.
“Working at Via has given me the opportunity to provide support for people to be exactly who they are — people who just need some help getting around,” he said.