Helping Eagle County residents get wheels
Eagle County, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Bruce Reed couldn’t bear to rely on people any more and feel as though he was putting people out by asking for rides. He needed a car, and the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity came through for him.
Reed is a painter and couldn’t haul his tools and equipment around on an Eco Bus.
“You wouldn’t imagine what I was going through,” Reed said.
Salvation Army Executive Director Tsu Wolin-Brown told Reed that her organization might be able to get him a car through the Habitat for Humanity’s Home Outlet store in Gypsum. She knew they had some donated cars they were trying to sell, and bought one for Reed for $500.
That car couldn’t be fixed, though, so Habitat for Humanity gave the Salvation Army another car that was actually worth a lot more. Habitat didn’t ask for a penny more, though.
“When they gave Bruce that car, he got so choked up,” Wolin-Brown said. “It’s kind of a real basic need.”
The organizations have partnered up with Eagle Valley High School’s auto mechanics class and local auto body and mechanic shops that fix cars up at discounted rates.
“It’s such a great community partnership,” Wolin-Brown said. “This allows people to work.”
Some cars are nicer than others, and unfortunately Reed brought the car given to him to the shop Friday. He said it needed a couple of parts and maintenance that he’s not able to fix himself, but overall it’s a good car.
“(Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army) can only put so much money into them,” Reed said. “They’re really good people. I would not have a car if it wasn’t for them.”
Tom McKay, who is trying to get the car donation program going at Habitat for Humanity’s Home Outlet store, is excited about the possibilities for the program. He said there are big opportunities for donors, too, since the cars can be written off as tax deductions.
The goal is to get cars that are in good condition because donors can only write off the amount for which the cars are sold, plus it benefits those who need the cars as well as saving nonprofit money in order to fix them.
He’s hoping to get enough donated cars in the program where the store can open up a small dealership eventually, although he said it could be a while before that’s up and running.
The partnership with the high school and community college mechanics classes helps educate local students, and it also increases the value for the donors, he said.
“There’s a huge need for cars,” McKay said. “And this helps educate our kids.”
Wolin-Brown said if people really wanted to be purists, they might say cars aren’t a necessity. But for some, they really are.
Sheryl Braaz, who is unemployed and lives in McCoy, has medical problems that prevent her from working. She needs to see a doctor on a regular basis and has no car to drive about 40 miles into town.
“I’m always asking for rides, or my son will have to take a day off to take me, which I never want to ask him to do,” Braaz said. “But sometimes it comes down to that.”
Braaz is one of four people that Wolin-Brown has on a waiting list for a car. Wolin-Brown said the organization can’t afford to help everybody with everything, but she’s determined to at least try.
April Hopkins, of Avon, is a single mother with two children. Taking the bus is something she does, but it’s hard, she said.
She has to bring her children everywhere she goes, and they’re 4 years old and 1 year old. That means she’s carting around a stroller and other items, which makes it hard to get around. It’s hard to get the children ready in time, too, and often they miss the bus.
“We can’t come and go as we please,” Hopkins said. “If we had a car, it would solve a lot of problems.”
A car would not only help Hopkins get her children to day care on time, but it would also help her in her search for a job.
McKay hopes to get enough cars donated so they can sell them to people like Hopkins and Braaz, or to the Salvation Army.
“There’s a huge need for these (donated) cars,” McKay said. “It’s a really neat program.”
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.