'Empowering' Vt. Nonprofit Awards A New England nonprofit celebrated a major milestone Tuesday.
Good News Garage, a charity that provides cars to low-income people in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine who struggle to find transportation, awarded its 5,000th vehicle.
"This car will help us get into better housing," predicted April Thorburn of Rutland, Vermont, who accepted the keys to a used Subaru, along with her husband, Job, and infant son, Jason.
The Burlington, Vermont-based nonprofit fixes up used cars donated by community members and provides them to low-income working people, who meet qualifications and cover certain costs—like registration fees and insurance.
The Thorburns said having a vehicle means "the world" to them.
"Laundry and shopping alone is really tough," Job Thorburn said. "And trying to get to work."
Another Good News Garage office in Manchester, New Hampshire, serves people from that state, Maine, and Massachusetts, aiming to help lift families out of poverty.
Oftentimes, recipients have long commutes in rural areas, which are not well-served by public transportation.
"I think transportation can be empowering," said Amy Barcomb of Good News Garage. "Transportation can open a whole new world of possibilities."
"Five thousand cars is a lot, but it's a drop in the bucket for what transportation needs really exist in New England," observed Angela Bovill of the Ascentria Care Alliance — a social services organization based in Worcester, Massachusetts, which includes Good News Garage.
Bovill noted the need for Good News Garage's services is greater than the organization's ability to help — due to the charity being limited by donations.
Bovill explained that if donated cars have good road life left in them, they are spiffed up and awarded to families in need, but if they are at the end of their lives, they are auctioned off — with proceeds benefiting the work of Good News Garage.
"If you look at some of the primary causes of poverty, transportation is number two, right behind mental health and substance abuse," Bovill noted. "It is a big deal."
The Thorburns say the car will help them visit their other kids who are with foster families, as well as make it to needed medical appointments, and to Job's job selling lumber.
The couple's hope is for a road to a better future, now that they have a car to get them there.
"Thank God for Good News Garage," Job Thorburn said.