For many people in Buncombe County, transportation is a major barrier to accessing social services and getting daily tasks done, like getting to and from work. For almost two-thirds (63 percent) of all people who utilize the ‘Asheville Redefines Transit’ (ART) bus system, this is their only option for transportation. Most of these people (60 percent) also have to use the bus five to six days per week. Many people use the bus to get to and from work, but have to take multiple bus lines and sometimes have to wait an hour or more for each bus. The buses also do not run to more rural areas or run late at night, and only have limited Sunday routes, which creates further barriers to transportation, particularly for people who work at night such as the many hospitality employees in our community. Even though ART helps to get people around, it does not have the capacity to support the high level of transportation needs that currently exist in our community.
That is why Our VOICE is extremely excited to now be partnering with Wheels4Hope! Wheels4Hope is “a non-profit, faith-based car donation program that turns donated cars into local blessings.” Their mission is “to provide affordable, reliable transportation to economically vulnerable families and individuals.” Wheels4Hope repairs donated vehicles and sells them as ‘Program Cars’ to individuals and families referred to them by partner agencies. The person pays $500 and is responsible for title and transfer fees, but the car is in good mechanical condition, worth $2,000-$4,000, and comes with a 6-month warranty. All other vehicles that cannot be repaired into a program car are sold for parts or to the general public with all of the proceeds going directly back to Wheels4Hope’s mission. The organization started in Raleigh in 2000, and since then they have expanded to the Greensboro and Asheville area, and have provided 2,786 program cars so far!
As a new partner agency, Our VOICE will now be able to refer survivors directly to Wheels4Hope for program cars. This will greatly support the work that I do as a case manager here at Our VOICE. The survivors we work with who are eligible for the program will now have access to a financially sustainable transportation resource that has the potential to make a dramatic positive impact on their daily lives. Our goal is to empower survivors and help them to regain control after trauma, and Wheels4Hope will help Our VOICE do this in a very meaningful way for survivors who face transportation barriers.
Having the ability to go where you need to, when you need to get there, is something that a lot of us take for granted, but many of the survivors we work with struggle with transportation on a regular basis. Wheels4Hope allows us to empower survivors in a new way, and connect them to a resource that helps establish a level of independence and control that could be a major part of their healing process. We look forward to working with Wheels4Hope, and want to take this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU for everything that they do in our community!