Donated wheels get volunteers going
EAGLE COUNTY – Creating a nonprofit organization is one thing. Getting people to the program’s activities is another. Transportation issues can limit even the best program’s scope.That is why Joe Schmidt, former Meet the Wilderness executive director, has just founded another nonprofit organization: Wheels for Eagle. The mission is to make sure participants in nonprofit activities can reach their programs safely, reliably and affordably, Schmidt says.”There are a lot things nonprofit are good at. But there are logistical things, they might need help with,” Schmidt says.
With its 15-passenger van, Wheels for Eagle will pick up and transport any local nonprofit groups to their activities within about a two-hour driving radius. Right now, Schmidt is the sole driver, and the service runs Monday through Saturday.
“Here’s a vehicle that nonprofit can use for almost nothing,” says Schmidt. Schmidt worked with Meet the Wilderness for more than 22 years and was one of the founding members of the Eagle River Youth Coalition. He says the idea first occurred to him five years ago during meetings with directors of other nonprofit in the valley. “One of the reoccurring things I would hear is that ‘we have this program, but we can’t get the transportation we need,'” Schmidt says. Prior to acting as executive director for Meet the Wilderness, Schmidt worked with a local van company for eight years as both a driver and a dispatcher. He knows all about certification for van safety and driving a van filled with passengers.”I’ve got people very interested in using the service,” Schmidt says.
Schmidt already has the startup money for the company and van, and is busy writing grant applications for additional funds. With an anticipated $75,000 annual budget, donations will be key to keeping the nonprofit business up and running – and to keep it affordable. Schmidt says. By helping Wheels for Eagle you will be helping several nonprofit in the valley at the same time, Schmidt says. “If we can help a few people every week, that would be great,” he says.