On Tuesday, December 13, 2016, Vehicles for Change (VFC) and the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) signed a landmark partnership agreement, which will enable ex-offenders interning at VFC’s auto repair shop, Full Circle Service Center, to qualify to be hired to work on MTA’s fleet of buses. Governor Larry Hogan was a witness to the signing of this memorandum of understanding and spoke about the importance of putting Maryland back to work, saying, “The MTA has a real need for a pipeline of qualified mechanics to ensure that our buses are safe for our citizens.“
Among the other attendees at the MOU signing was Baltimore City Mayor, Catherine Pugh, DLLR Secretary, Kelly Schulz, MTA Administrator and CEO, Paul Comfort and former Full Circle Service Center intern, Tarkese McDonald, who received a standing ovation when talking about his experience interning at Full Circle after being released from prison. McDonald, the father of three girls, was a quick learner and an impressive student. He was quickly recruited by Eyre Bus, Tour and Travel during an employee visit to Full Circle.
All interns receive hands-on experience as well as ASE training and certifications. Upon leaving, they are placed in jobs at various automotive dealerships, national chains and independent shops. Now that the MTA has signed on as an employer, interns will be offered jobs as diesel mechanics with salaries starting at $17 per hour with benefits.
In his comments, Governor Hogan stated: “This partnership will offer individuals who have paid their debt to society a second chance to live productive lives. It will help restore families and communities and it is yet another example that Maryland is indeed open for business.”