BURLINGTON, Vt. - Like thousands of Vermonters before them, Job and April Thorburn drove home Tuesday in a car donated by the Good News Garage.
The Thorburns, who have 7-month-old son, Jason, received the keys to a donated 2003 Subaru at a ceremony at the Good News Garage headquarters in Burlington.
It was the 5,000th vehicle donated by Good News Garage, which has been helping families in need with transportation since Hal Colston founded the charity in 1996.
Colston says he feels this program is why he was called to move to Vermont in the 1980’s.
“I had this idea. I called it the ‘Good Samaritan Garage’,” he recalled after surveying data that showed a lack of transportation equity.
The “Good Samaritan Garage” would eventually become the “Good News Garage.”
The Thorburns, from Rutland, say the car will be life-changing by easing Job’s commute to his job at Home Depot.
"It'll make life so much easier, even with just laundry and going shopping, just the little things you take for granted when you have a car. It'll make life a lot better,” said Job Thorburn.
“We'll be able to attend church instead of always having to have them give us a ride to church,” said April Thorburn.
The Thorburns, like all Good News Garage recipients, had to pay only the purchase and use taxes on the car.
"The whole idea of a car donation program allows them to pay a few hundred bucks for a vehicle that's worth $4,000 - $5,000 and that works," said Hal Colston.
The Good News Garage is a member of Ascentria Care Alliance.
Lt. Governor Dave Zuckerman and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger attended Tuesday’s celebration.
"Without transportation, economic opportunity is greatly reduced for really the vast majority of our population,” Zuckerman said. “We do not have, outside of some parts of Chittenden County, really the public transportation that we need to help people get to and fro, whether it's work or food or services so a vehicle really is a lifeline."
Weinberger said the lack of a "robust" public transportation system persents challenges for many Vermonter.
“We don't have that here and we're not likely to be able to get there," he said. "Good News Garage really fills a gap in that system and we're very thankful as a city for what the organization does."