It has been three years since Danait Asgedom and her eight-year-old daughter received a gift that changed their lives.
Working two jobs and having given up her vehicle to her brother with a much larger family, Danait was struggling to find ways to make it to work.
“I’m still really active within my community and then having a younger daughter who I wanted to put into programs, having to pick her up from school, at the same time the bus is not always on time, the weather is not always friendly, it was a struggle,” she says.
In Windsor-Essex, many individuals and families struggle to meet their transportation needs. Public transportation may be limited or unavailable in certain communities, creating significant challenges for many to gain or maintain employment.
“Through our own research and community consultations, access to transportation was identified as an issue for many people in Windsor-Essex County, particularly those who are living in low income,” says United Way CEO, Lorraine Goddard.
Rebuilding Wheels Rebuilding Lives was launched in 2014 and has since given away seven one-time gifts of a donated used vehicle to families living in low income. The deserving families are chosen by Family Services Windsor-Essex, a funded partner of United Way.
Danait says the program has allowed her daughter to feel like any other kid; she can now attend after school and language programs. Most importantly her daughter is now able to visit family in the States.
The used vehicles are repaired by automotive students at École secondaire catholique E.J. Lajeunesse. More than 200 students have been involved in the program to date. Students from the business class helped to develop the program logo and culinary classes have catered key exchange events.
Rebuilding Wheels Rebuilding Lives’ community partners also include Benson Auto Parts, Beverly Tire and Auto, Jeff Smith’s County Chevrolet, which donate a range of products and services like auto parts and the gifted vehicles.
Rebuilding Wheels Rebuilding Wheels early Program Partners
“We have always had a great relationship with organizations such as United Way, but to see our resources help a family in our community and to see how it impacts their day-to-day life makes us all extremely happy,” says Jeff Smith, President of County Chevrolet.
Now that Danait has a reliable vehicle, she is able to pick up last-minute shifts at work and sit on a number of boards, volunteering her time to a number of community initiatives. She and her family have become active members of the community. She says it’s only right to give her time as a way of giving back for what she’s received.
“I don’t even think the word thank you is enough, it really is life changing.”
Posted January 12, 2017