Rolling roof bought for homeless duo
Vail, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” Jane Patterson and Michael O’Gara might have a new brown van to call home on the streets of Aspen.
Since an accident July 13 on Maroon Creek Road totaled the tape-covered brown Chevy they called home for more than 10 years, Patterson and O’Gara have been out-of-doors.
But a replacement may have been found. A 1977 brown Dodge passenger van has been spotted near Paonia.
“It was almost like providence,” said Vince Savage, director of Valley Information and Assistance.
Savage took the van for a test drive, checked with some of his donors and bought it for $500.
“I’ve always been kind of a Chevy girl,” said Patterson, displaying the keys to the new vehicle with a wide grin.
Savage, however, said it might be some time before the couple can take ownership.
“It needs some work on the inside, but it runs great,” said Savage, adding that he was happy the vehicle made it over McClure Pass in one piece.
The van’s odometer lists 48,000 miles and there is no broken glass in the vehicle, but the van needs a new muffler, Savage said.
But with built-in beds, a TV and video player, the van could satisfy the needs of the two who’ve been living in a van on area roads for years, Savage said, and he has received a number of contributions he’ll use to fix it up.
“We’re waiting to find out about Jane’s viability as a driver-owner,” Savage said.
A judge Tuesday awarded Patterson a continuance on a drunken driving charge in the wake of the July 13 accident when she drove the van off the road.
O’Gara, who faces a charge of public urination in municipal court today, does not have a valid license, Savage said.
“I know people out there who think we are idiots for doing this “that we’re enabling them,” Savage said. “But my response is we don’t want people freezing to death.”
The gift of a van might go far to earn the couple’s trust and help them get access to the help they need to “better their overall health and responsibility as people,” Savage said.
“It’s a hand-up, not a hand-out,” Savage said. Otherwise people just fall “off the grid,” he added, citing the recent case of a homeless man who died of a treatable disease near a Highway 82 overpass.
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