ST. ALBANS — Just a few months ago, Amanda Wells barely had time to breathe. Between her duties as a single mom of two and working nearly 50 hours a week without a car, there wasn’t much time to spare. So when her father was rushed to Albany Medical Center with a cracked skull and bleeding in the brain, she was forced to call a timeout.
There was no question that she would be there for her dad. The question was how she was going to close the distance between her home in St. Albans to her father in Hudson Falls, New York.
The only answer she had took a toll on her already tight budget. Paying a friend to transport her, she was able to make it just in time for her father to have surgery. But when the ride she had lined up to go back home fell through, she ended up stranded in New York for a week, missing work and getting docked a paycheck.
For the busy mother, the financial stress, thrown on top of an already tragic family emergency, was almost too much. But on Nov. 21, her transportation problems were solved, thanks to a 2011 Subaru Outback and the Burlington-based nonprofit Good News Garage.
Established in 1996, Good News Garage takes used cars donated from the public, invests $2,000 in maintenance or repairs, before awarding the vehicle to a local family in need.
The majority of clients are referred to Good News Garage through Reach Up, Vermont’s assistance program for working families. The organization also has an open application program where people can qualify for a subsidized car. Known as the JumpStart program, a working person can apply to buy a car sold at half price.
“This is sometimes people’s only lifeline to get a vehicle,” Tom Kupfer of Good News Garage said.
Wells had been connected with the organization through her Reach Up case worker, and for the last two and half years had been utilizing Good News Garage’s Ready to Go ride share program. Described as the stepping-stone to getting a car, the Ready to Go program provides state Reach Up clients with a free van shuttle service, using mostly donated minivans. Because of Ready to Go, Wells was able to make it to the three jobs she worked around the county. However, flexibility was still an issue, especially with young kids.
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