Every year, Solid Ground provides more than 280,000 rides to people living on low incomes or with disabilities.

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The difference between “essential” and “optional” can depend on perspective, and circumstance. Every day, people living on low incomes or dealing with disabilities face challenges meeting their essential needs. Those essentials range from basic food and shelter to services that bridge the gap between just living, and living a full life.

On Christmas Day, 2017, a snowstorm canceled all of Solid Ground Transportation’s ACCESS bus routes except for “essential” rides.

“One elderly lady was surprised my bus had arrived because she did not deem her ride as being “essential,” driver Robert Jamieson said. “It was not, say, a medical emergency.”

As the bus churned through the snow, Jamieson recalled hearing some sniffles. His passenger was tearing up.

He asked her why she was crying. She paused a beat. Then he says she told him how much she loved movies — animated movies most of all. She added softly that her vision had been diminishing — a result of a medical condition — and that “any day now it could go.”

“It turns out, I was taking her to lunch with a friend so that afterward they could catch the latest Pixar film, ‘Coco,’ ” Jamieson said. “She said this would probably be the very last time she would be able to see a big-budget animated film in all its clarity, detail and colorful wondrousness.”

“I looked at her and said: “Ma’am, this sounds like an essential ride to me,” Jamieson said.

Every year, Solid Ground provides more than 280,000 rides to people living on low incomes or with disabilities. With a broader array of anti-poverty programs, Solid Ground has helped more than 62,000 families move off the streets and into homes, gain access to nutritious food, and reconnect with the community.

What may seem like small gestures to some can have a big impact in the lives of others. Rides to errands and appointments. Fresh produce. The human conversation that comes with the ride or the meal.

Each ride and service is essential in its own way.

Solid Ground works to build a community beyond poverty and oppression where all people have access to quality housing, nutritious food, and opportunities to thrive. They also participate in grassroots advocacy to tackle the root causes of inequity. Visit solid-ground.org to learn more.