For many low-income job seekers trying to achieve economic stability, landing a job is only half of the battle. Monthly car payments can quickly drain already limited resources, and without a vehicle, just getting to work can be a challenge.
In Michigan, growing numbers of low-income families are getting the vehicles they need to travel to work and run basic errands, thanks to Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan’s Workers on Wheels (WOW) program.
The Goodwill® agency has worked with a local car dealership, Jack’s Auto Sales and Services, for the last 12 years to get the most value out of their vehicle donations.
“We started out inspecting and servicing the donated cars, advising whether they were worth getting back on the street or not,” dealership owner Jack Tokie told the Traverse City news outlet The Ticker.
Now, when the Goodwill receives a high-value vehicle that low-income families cannot afford to insure, it works with the car dealer to sell the vehicle and use the profit to purchase two to three reliable vehicles that better fit the needs and capabilities of the WOW recipients.
“Sometimes we’ll receive a vehicle that because of its high value and thus, higher insurance requirements, may not be a prudent placement for our families in need,” explained LuAnn Heinert, director of the Goodwill WOW program.
When one family’s aging father could no longer drive, family members donated his 2004 Chrysler Town and Country minivan to the WOW program. The car dealer sold the minivan and produced three vehicles for low-income families in its place – a 2003 Kia Sedona, a 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport and a 1996 Plymouth Voyager.
“Jack’s went through a lot of work for us to make this happen; I can’t tell you how many times they’ve come through for us,” said Heinert. “It’s really refreshing that we have people like this in our community.”
Read more about the program in The Ticker
Goodwill’s network of 164 independent, community-based Goodwill agencies in the United States and Canada offers customized job training, employment placement and other services to people who have disabilities, lack education or job experience, or face employment challenges. To find out about services in your area that can help you succeed, use our locator to look up the name and contact information of the headquarters nearest you.