Getting Moving: Our VOICE Partners with Wheels4Hope

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!


Our VOICE in 2016

Starting over, letting go, setting goals, resolutions and/or intentions… all very common themes for the month of January. Besides big milestones and life changes or events, January is a great time to create positive change and set measurable goals.

Here at Our VOICE, we certainly acknowledge January 1st. How each staff member recognizes the new year may look different: taking vacation/self-care, starting of a new fiscal year, approaching due dates, ending of school break, creating new Fitbit challenges, etc.; however, among all of our different personal goals and thoughts going into the new year, we all unite and share at least one intention: Ending sexual violence.

If you have ever set a goal before, then you know the importance of setting attainable goals. Nobody wants to set themselves up for failure. Right now you might be thinking: “Ending sexual violence? That’s impossible!” I will be honest, there was a time in my life when I too thought ending sexual assault and rape culture was an unreachable dream, but I am here to tell you it is not.

Wearing seatbelts felt like an impossible cultural shift. How can you change a cultural habit? Is it realistic to mandate whether people are going to wear their seatbelts or not? Well, mandates and laws are only a small step towards real change. Our language around car safety and the value we put on human lives is how our culture has shifted in relation to wearing seatbelts. Individuals decided their personal boundaries and values around wearing seatbelts, which mirrored positive behavior for young children. Those children grow up not even seeing another option; the consequences are not worth the risky behavior.

The consequences of not wearing your seatbelt can have traumatic impact on you and others, a trauma that can be prevented. Sexual violence is no different. It is 100% preventable.

Our new year’s intention is something that makes our office culture unique. We have so many dedicated and unique staff, volunteer advocates, and board members but we all share one passion. Ending rape culture and sexual violence is our common motivator, making Our VOICE driven, focused, and unstoppable.

This new space on our website is going to be a place where our staff, volunteers, board members, survivors, and community allies can share specific short-term goals, thoughts, actions, and feelings. We recognize we cannot achieve our long term goal without our community. Our blog will another forum to create thought and dialog, further connecting you to our cause and to the process of shifting our culture. Together we can end sexual violence!

—Caitlin is the Lead Counselor at Our VOICE. To learn more about our counseling services click here.