Taking the Wheel


Take a few moments to consider this: what would your life be like without a car?

Imagine your weekday and weekend routines, and how your life would be different if you did not have a vehicle. People in poverty face these questions on a daily basis.

  • How will you get to work? Can you walk or bike, or do you need someone to give you a ride?
  • Is there a grocery store and a laundromat within walking or biking distance of your home?
  • Do you need to arrange transportation for your children?
  • What friends or family are critical to your transportation plan working? What is your back-up option when they are not available?
  • Is there an Advance Transit bus stop near your home? The AT runs on weekdays and not on weekends or after 6 PM—how does this affect you?
  • How else would the lack of a vehicle impact you or your family?

The Torrey family has been working with their Haven service coordinator Margeaux Duclos for the past year, following their stay at the Byrne Family Shelter. Margeaux was aware that their previous car was falling apart and cost too much to fix, and was able to look into the option of giving the family a previously-owned donated car through the Haven. This month, they were given the keys to a 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid.

“Our car is our livelihood. It means everything to us to have reliable transportation so Bert and I can get to work. We do not live near the bus line and it would be devastating for us not to have a vehicle,” says Kaylynn. “We really really needed this. We’re so grateful to the Haven. It makes such a difference in our lives.”

There are no specific requirements for donated vehicles (year, make/model, mileage, etc.), other than the fact that the cars must be registered and inspected when they are gifted to the Haven so we know they are roadworthy. The Haven works with recipients to complete any needed paperwork and make the transfer.

“We had three donors give cars to the Haven in 2016 and right now, there are four more that are in the works. We’ve never had this many car donations,” said Executive Director Sara Kobylenski. “It’s wonderful to see the win/win this creates for donors and the people we serve. Donors receive a tax deduction and don’t have to worry about the hassle of selling an old vehicle, while the recipients of the cars have a significant barrier removed from their lives. The donation of a car is a life-changing event for people like Kaylynn and Bert, who are working hard to make ends meet. It is a joy to see them receive this gift.”

When asked how they liked their new wheels, the family’s four-year-old son piped up in the background and shared his excitement about the smooth-riding vehicle: “It’s like driving in a cloud. Like a spaceship!”

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