Bus drivers – community heroes was first published last year. However, it is such a heart-warming story that I decided it was worth publishing again with today’s perspective. We rarely think about bus drivers, but they are on the street all the time. They are an unsung resource for community protection.

     It’s a warm, nice and very positive story that hit the news last year. It made me think we should pass a law that the media has to report two good stories for every bad one. Wouldn’t that be a miracle. It might change the way we treat each other, locally and internationally. I agree with my last year’s sentiment more and more each day.

Milwaukee transit bus driver Cecilia Nation-Gardner immediately suspected trouble when she saw a young girl wandering aimlessly along a busy street, crying. She was in her pajamas and slippers, on a hot muggy morning in July.

Cecilia didn’t see a caretaker around so she pulled over to talk to the 6-year old who told her she was trying to find her mother who lives in Georgia. She asked the child to board the bus. She then called the authorities. Minutes later, the girl’s panicked family arrived, and took her home.

This was the second time Nation-Gardner had rescued a lost child. In May, she spotted a young child running into traffic after he wandered away from school.

“Had it not been me, had it been a sex trafficker or child molester, that’s the only thing goes through my mind in those situations,” Nation-Gardner, 54, told NBC News. “As a bus driver, you have to be attentive to everything going on around you.”

At least a dozen lost kids, most under the age of five, have been found and safely returned to their families by Milwaukee County bus drivers since 2016.

“It’s not just lost kids that bus drivers end up helping,” said Polly Hanson, senior director of security, risk, and emergency management for the American Public Transportation Association. They come to the aid of seniors with dementia, disoriented adults and even crime victims, she said. For so many people, buses are a safe space because of the drivers, she added. “Bus operators are the unsung heroes that make communities safer.”

Several transit bus systems have even begun training drivers on spotting human trafficking victims. In Pasco County, Florida dozens of drivers have already become watchdogs for law enforcement.

Maybe we need a worldwide campaign to train, publicly acknowledge and demonstrably appreciate and use this unsung, and mostly hidden, community resource. In the aftermath of the chaos of the recent U.S. Presidential election, this is the sort of human story that gives us confidence in the future. How can we use bus drivers, mail deliverers and, yes, police men and women as positive community resources, instead of taking them for granted, or demonizing them. Bus drivers – Community heroes.

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