Fort Worth resident Karl Mott makes leather purses, wallets and belts and has been working with leather since junior high.

However, he lost his eyesight because of complications from diabetes in 1995 at the age of 31.

“I’ve been really blessed that I’m good with my hands. I can use my hands really well,” Mott said.

Mott has ridden to and from his job at Texas Boot and Saddlery four days a week for the past 16 years, using Catholic Charities’ affordable transportation service. The service allows people with a disability or who are 65 or older to ride for between $2.50 and $3.25.

“They’re a blessing. I have a really, really good memory. I remember the first time they picked me up,” Mott said. 

In 2012, Catholic Charities acquired the service from the American Red Cross. Catholic Charities Driver Supervisor Joe Manuel worked with the American Red Cross as a driver since 2006. When Catholic Charities took over, he kept driving with them.

Mott holds Manuel close to him. They’ve sung and talked about any and everything on their rides together, Manuel said.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a bad moment,” Mott said.

Manuel, who grew up in West Fort Worth, said he treats his clients like family.

“The people, I’ve learned to grow to love them. You see people three times a week or every week of your life, they become like family members to you,” Manuel said. 

These days, Manuel doesn’t pick up and drop off clients often. He trains new drivers on what to do and what not to do.

Catholic Charities has about 30 drivers daily and makes about 240 trips a day, said Matt Jacobs, transportation director. The rides allow clients to pay a minimal fee and be independent.

“They don’t have to spend a lot of money Uber riding or trying to hassle a family member. They keep their independence,” Manuel said.

Rides information:

51,000 rides given in 2021
55,000 expected in 2022
44% of trips for medical purposes
38% of trips for work or school

18% of trips for shopping, to senior centers, recreation and social visiting

6 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday – Friday
To verify if you qualify to be picked up, call 817-336-8714
Source: Catholic Charities

Rider Thelma Jones, 69, who grew up in Fort Worth, rides to and from her dialysis appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Jones heard about the service through a friend.

“Oh, that was a miracle. Uber charged us more than $100 a month,” Jones said.

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Cristian is a May 2021 graduate of Texas Christian University. At TCU, ArguetaSoto served as staff photographer at TCU360 and later as its visual editor, overseeing other photojournalists. A Fort Worth...