United Way helps bus driver break free from homelessness

Man standing in front of the bus he drives

AJ Makibbin is excited to give back with AJ’s Elf Xpress bus trip to New York City on Nov. 19. A portion of proceeds from each ticket will go to United Way of York County. 

AJ Makibbin is excited to give back with AJ’s Elf Xpress bus trip to New York City beginning Nov. 19 through select days in December. A portion of proceeds from each ticket will go to United Way of York County.

Written by Katie Elwell

man leaning against bus


AJ Makibbin was alone and homeless in 2017, spending his nights curled up in his car, tucked in the back of big-box store parking lots.

In a moment of desperation, he told his boss, Bailey Coach founder John Bailey, of his plight. AJ just needed a place to bathe, and the Bailey Coach office near Spring Grove had a shower that no one used. 

Man sitting at bus steering wheel

Finding a home with United Way

This wasn’t AJ’s first experience with homelessness. At 19, he had been in a similar situation, but because of his age, he’d been able to access a youth shelter and services. Now in his 30s, AJ wasn’t sure where to turn.

He reached out to United Way of York County, an organization that funds programs that improve lives through equitably advancing education, health, and economic mobility. Gifts to the York County Impact Fund support programs like the YMCA of the Roses’ affordable housing programs.

United Way connected AJ to the YMCA and helped him take the next step toward permanently ending his homeless situation. It was the start of a new life.

Man standing next to bus

‘There’s always time to give back’

Now, with homelessness behind him, AJ is excited to give back to an organization that helped him along in his journey.

“This year I decided, I want to give back to United Way because they helped me out,” he says.

AJ especially loves knowing that when he gives to the United Way of York County, the money stays local. It doesn’t just go to support a single organization, but many.

And it’s through United Way’s support of programs that can change lives — like those AJ needed — that he trusts his giving has a positive impact.

Bailey Coach has a long history of supporting United Way of York County and has opened the door for AJ to continue that tradition this holiday season.

“Being homeless makes me a more giving person,” says AJ. “No matter what you’re going through, there’s always time to give back.”

All aboard the Elf Xpress

Beginning Nov. 19 and throughout select dates in December, AJ’s Elf Xpress will welcome passengers onto a Bailey Coach bus in York and transport them to New York City for a day of enjoyment. For each ticket sold, AJ will donate $12.75 to United Way of York County.

“The most rewarding thing,” says AJ, “is being put into a position that allows me to give back in such a large way. Being a driver and working for a company that allows me to book my own trips and do events like the Elf Xpress, I don’t think it would be possible at any other company.”

AJ loves knowing that he’ll be making a difference for those whose lives, like his, will be transformed through the help of the United Way of York County.