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Car ownership key to independence - Family Care mom realizes goal for family

August 8, 2013

By Carol C. Layton

After two days of rain and fierce winds, the morning of June 14 dawned breezy, bright and bluebird sunny just for Diana – a mother of two in the Family Care program at Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH). Representatives from Wheels4Hope, a non-profit, faith-based program that helps deserving individuals receive cars, presented Diana with a car as family, friends and BCH staff members encircled for a prayer of blessing.

As Diana joined hands with others standing around her 2000 Chevy Prism in the circle drive of the Fleshman-Pratt Education Center in Thomasville, Diana couldn’t help but remember another day – the wintry December day when a friend dropped her off at the weekday education center for a job interview. Nervous and with a lot at stake, she willed herself to lift her chin as she walked toward the front door. With no job, no car and little money, Diana saw no end to her daily struggles to provide a stable home for her young sons.

The interview with Linda Russo, BCH’s director of Weekday Education, was going well. Russo saw that Diana was a qualified and experienced applicant, but when Diana admitted she would be relying on friends for transportation, Russo drew back. Her heart for ministry, however, caused her to ask just a few more questions. When she did, she learned Diana was an ideal candidate for the new Family Care program.

Diana applied, was admitted to the program, and because lack of transportation was no longer an issue, she was able to begin working in January. With a son on each hand, she enjoyed her five-minute walks to work each day across the peaceful, tree-lined streets of Mills Home.

Russo is glad she didn’t have to end the interview upon hearing, “no transportation.” “Diana is a wonderful employee and very dependable. It’s always a success when BCH programs work together and we can fully use the resources we have to help people.”

Lynn Garner, director of Family Care, developed the partnership with Wheels4Hope in order to help moms like Diana – those whose lack of reliable transportation create an obstacle to their independence.

Wheels4Hope refurbishes cars with the help of volunteer mechanics. According to Tiwana Jones, manager for Wheels4Hope’s Greensboro hub, cars aren’t simply handed over. She says, “Applicants must be referred from an organization that partners with us – such as BCH. The process takes six weeks and in addition to saving $500 for the cost of the car, recipients must have a job, create a budget that shows they are prepared for the responsibilities of owning a car, research insurance options, and attend an orientation session and a car maintenance class.”

Diana and her sons are excited about what the car means for their futures. The boys are hoping for a trip to the zoo. In August, Diana will attend Davidson County Community College to earn her early childhood education credentials. “Now that I have my car, I can be more independent and do things on my own.” In July, she attended an annual family reunion held in Cherokee. “I hadn’t been in a couple years. I got to see my mom and grandpa.”

“Over the 27 years I’ve been with BCH, I’ve had the opportunity to work in many programs,” Garner says. “After a few months in Family Care, I knew that I was involved in a worthwhile ministry. Mothers and children find the peace they need for their families to heal and grow strong and have a better future. Currently, there are eight cottages in six locations across the state.”

Garner says, “Car ownership is the key in becoming more independent. Diana is a very motivated person. She has a job, is an excellent mother, and now a car owner. This will be an asset to Diana as she works to meet her future goals.”