The Do Good Bus is just as it sounds — a party bus for helping others
By Shanee Edwards
File this under: “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Thanks to her mother, Rebecca Pontius grew up doing a lot of volunteer work — so seizing opportunities to lend a helping hand was always part of her consciousness.
For her 30th birthday, Pontius found herself on a packed party bus and noticed how all her various friend groups started to bond with each other in such tight quarters.
Then the lightbulb of an idea went on: Why not create a party bus that gives back to the community?
From that night of celebration, the Do Good Bus was born.
“The first ride was sort of a one-off — just for our friends — but then people asked when the next one would be, so we decided to organize one a month,” Pontius said.
Now the Do Good Bus is doing monthly community rides open to anybody who shows up as well as corporate events and private parties — birthday parties included.
For community rides, which take off from the Culver City Expo Line parking lot on West Washington Boulevard, the destination remains secret until arrival to add an element of fun and to discourage preconceived ideas about the cause of the day.
Destination activities have included such things as upkeep of school or community gardens, feeding the hungry at food banks or homeless shelters, and even painting murals to help spruce up a neighborhood.
The next community ride is Saturday, Aug. 1.
Once Pontius got to work bringing her idea to life, she said the organization came together rather quickly. After the first year, the Do Good Bus partnered with the band Foster the People (known for their 2011 hit song “Pumped up Kicks”), which created a lot of buzz.
“We went on tour with them and were able to do a Do Good Bus in each city before the show,” Pontius said. “It was based on what we could find in each city and what was needed.”
In L.A. these days, her organization works with groups such as MEND (Meeting Each Need with Dignity), Enrich LA and Baby Buggy, a non-profit that collects items for families with small children in need.
On her website, Pontius lists five different categories of community rides. Good People rides, for example, focus on working directly with people in need. Good Earth rides focus on helping the environment. This Saturday’s ride is listed as both a Good Boy and a Good Dog ride, meaning that the day’s activities will benefit children and animals.
Though it was a spirit of volunteerism that sparked the Do Good Bus, Pontius said the thing that’s most important to her now is building community.
“If people already know each other, I enjoy pulling them together and strengthening those bonds. If they’re strangers, then they get to create new bonds. That’s what keeps me getting up every morning to continue this. And also the idea that doing good makes you feel good. More than anything, it’s about being kind to other people. That was something that was instilled in me, being open and being kind to everyone,” she said.
Two big things Pontius hopes the Do Good Bus can address on the Westside are beach cleanups and creating awareness about what’s polluting our water.
“A lot of people think it’s everyone at the beach leaving trash. But actually, it’s more about people leaving trash in the streets that is then getting washed into the ocean. Creating that awareness is really important,” she said.
One of the things Pontius finds most impressive about her volunteers is how many people show up for the ride by themselves. Many of these people connect on the bus and then continue a relationship afterward, she said.
“It’s kind of astounding. Whether it’s people who’ve met and gone on a date or worked together, or went to each other’s yoga classes, it’s really exciting for us to see people make those connections,” Pontius said.
The Do Good Bus as a way to find romance?
“You never know! It is like-minded people, so that’s possible.”
Saturday’s community ride leaves the Culver City Expo Line parking lot (8800 block of West Washington Boulevard, at National Boulevard) at 9:45 a.m. and returns at 3 p.m. Riders donate $45 (which includes a gift to the cause of the day) and get a free boxed lunch from Whole Foods. Visit dogoodbus.com to sign up.