This nonprofit has provided nearly 5,000 New England families with vehicles to date.
BY EMILY HEIDT
Starting last year, we began alerting you to events and causes worthy of your time and philanthropic treasure in our Good Cause of the Month series. Keep an eye out for a Good Cause every month here at NHMagazine.com, from charitable events to volunteer opportunities to nonprofits you should get to know – and, by the end of the year, your do-gooder cred will be off the charts.
For the first Good Cause of 2018, we’d like to introduce you to Good News Garage. This organization was founded in Burlington, Vermont, in 1996 as one of the nation’s first car donation nonprofits. Since their New Hampshire opening in 2002, they have been committed to providing refurbished vehicles for working people in need. The organization has provided nearly 5,000 New England families with vehicles to date. Read on to learn about all of their work and history and to find out how you can get involved.
What They Do
Good News Garage was founded in Vermont nearly 20 years ago by social activist and Lutheran church member, Hal Colston. After helping a single mother find a new car, Colston decided to start a “community garage” where people struggling to get out of poverty could receive a car that was affordable, safe and reliable. After being recognized by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development as a “Best of the Best” nonprofit agency, it opened another office in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 2002. At its most simple, Good News Garage’s mission is to provide refurbished vehicles for citizens in need whether that might be a car, van or truck. In addition to their core mission, Regional Marketing Director Susan Swain says that the nonprofit also works to “increase opportunities for our clients by empowering them to move into financial and social stability.”
Along with Swain, the Manchester office is staffed by two vehicle processors, two client coordinators and Director of Operations Bob Buckley. The organization stays busy processing all vehicle donations (including preparing tax letters and paperwork) and working with local families and organizations to place vehicles. “We partner with New Hampshire garages and repair facilities to evaluate and refurbish all vehicles awarded,” says Swain. “The vehicle processors are in regular communication with our partner garages to ensure that all repairs meet our strict standards. Our staff also goes over the vehicle bumper to bumper with the recipient to ensure that they understand how to operate and maintain their vehicle.”
Good News Garage has had measurable impact in providing vehicles to low-income individuals and families in need of transportation like single mother, Ellyn Gaudet. Gaudet was in a transitional phase in her life when she received her car in 2016. She was a single mother to a child with special needs and was returning to school to become a nurse. When her car failed inspection, she was left without transportation. As a participant in the New Hampshire Employment Program, Gaudet applied for a vehicle through a caseworker and received a 2002 Toyota Corolla. “My car got me through a crucial time in my life,” she recalls. “Because of my car, I was able to finish school and transition successfully into the working world. It took me from one place in life to another, allowing me to finish my studies and work as a student at a local hospital.” She wanted to pay it forward and recently re-donated her car back to Good News Garage where it will be awarded to another family. “My daughter and I benefitted greatly from GNG’s car donation, and it was very gratifying to give the car back for someone else to use,” she says.
In the 10 years that Swain has been with Good News Garage, there’s never been a dull moment. “It’s inspiring to see firsthand how a donated vehicle can truly change someone’s life,” notes Swain. “Individuals go from being ‘stuck’ to empowered, and are able to commute to work, further their education, access affordable housing, participate in their communities and care for their children.” In her time with the organization, Swain has donated three of her own vehicles and does what she does because of the many client success stories like Gaudet’s.
How You Can Help
From visiting their home base at 340 Granite St., Manchester, to donating your own vehicle, here are a few ways that you can help:
Donating: If you have an unneeded vehicle, consider donating it and changing a life. You can donate online or call (877) GIVE-AUTO. Good News Garage accepts ANY vehicle including cars, vans, trucks, antique and luxury vehicles, RVs, campers, motorcycles, etc. They will pick up or two all donations free of charge. They also welcome donations of new and gently used tires and car parts, supplies and other materials such as jumper cables or flashlights. If you don’t have a car or supplies to donate, then consider making a monthly or one-time donation here.
Volunteering: Volunteer your time by helping with picking up and delivering donated cars, staffing community events and providing office assistance. Learn more about volunteering here.
Faith and Community Supporters: If your business or faith-based organization is interested in partnering with Good News Garage, click here.
To learn more about Good News Garage and all the ways you can get involved, visit their website here. Be sure to follow along and stay up to date on all that is to come in 2018, such as their expanding JumpStart program to place more vehicles in the new year.