Ex-homeless woman named best bus rider | VailDaily.com
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Ex-homeless woman named best bus rider

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyDawn Rothschild takes the first of two buses she takes home to Gypsum every day after work at Home Depot in Avon.
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EAGLE COUNTY ” Dawn Rothschild’s life has changed dramatically since March, when she was jobless and living out of her truck.

These days, Rothschild, who was voted Passenger of the Year by ECO bus drivers, catches the bus near her home in Gypsum every morning to get to Avon, where she works at Home Depot.

She not only has a job in construction sales at Home Depot in Avon, but she has saved enough money to rent a condo in Gypsum.

“I’m well on my way to recovery (from my previous situation). It feels great to have my own place,” Rothschild said.

She has been busy furnishing her new home, and her once-fat cat Diego has already lost 5 pounds just by running around the condo’s little yard, she said.

Rothschild said she hit hard times after losing her job. She had a hard time getting hired, despite her 20 years experience in clerical work, simply because she was homeless.

But after a Vail Daily article featured her plight, she got a job interview with a Home Depot manager who read the story and wanted to help.

The Ford Ranger truck she once lived in recently was repossessed, leaving the county bus system as her only way to get to work.

But it worked out well, she said, since she can save gas and energy by riding the bus everyday to and from work. As a regular rider, she got to know other passengers and bus drivers, leading the drivers to vote her the rider of the year.

“Each year we ask all drivers to nominate a passenger who is courteous to them and others on the bus, making it pleasant for everyone who is riding,” said ECO Transit Planner David Johnson.

Rothschild will receive a $100 gift certificate to Pazzo’s Pizzeria for the recognition.

By recognizing “star” riders, the county hopes to encourage more people to ride the bus, Johnson said.

“The idea is to attract new riders and reward existing riders” he said. “It might be a little faster to drive a car, but the bus is nice, too.”

The bus stops right outside her work, so it is convenient to take, Rothschild said.

“In the mornings I can sleep or read a book,” she said. “It’s a lot better on my nerves. If it’s a stressful day at work, I don’t have to worry about it so much on the way home.”

Bus driver Curtis Owen said he voted for Rothschild because she is always friendly and helpful.

She knows the bus routes and is quick to help other passengers find their stops, and she is also helpful to the bus drivers, he said.

“She lets us know about road hazards or construction areas,” Owen said. “Once I’d just gotten on duty and didn’t know about some construction, and she let me know.”

She always makes a point to be patient and courteous to drivers, Rothschild said.

“People have the misconception that it’s the driver’s fault if something happens. But things happen on the road, and we all know that,” she said.

She made it through a rough time in her life by relying on her faith in God, she said, but she has also had a lot of help from strangers like Monahan at Home Depot. After the article, several people helped her financially, and others offered her places to stay.

Seeing the generosity of the community was a good experience, she said.

“The people of Eagle County have been very helpful,” she said. “I’m glad I’m here.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.


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