Having reliable transportation is the key to snagging and maintaining employment, but not everyone can afford the cost.
For the last 15 years, the Kendall Grundy Community Action Services has been a welcome crutch for families needing a financial boost in the transportation department.
The Drive To Success Program helps approximately 20 low-income families a year who are struggling with acquiring a vehicle or keeping it maintained, said Diane Alford, KGCAS Director.
Fifteen years ago, when the program was in its infancy, Kendall and Grundy counties were much smaller, Alford explained.
“There were no bus services. There were no reliable taxis,” Alford said. “If you look at the statistics in Kendall and Grundy, most people are working outside the counties, so they need reliable transportation to get them at least 20 miles per day on a consistent basis.”
The program’s initial goal was to work with local car dealerships to obtain low-cost vehicles for families in need. That quest didn’t pan out, and Alford decided to tinker with the program to make it more successful.
“We evolved the program to help people that do have a car already,” Alford said. Applicants can receive funds for up to $750 in car repairs that will keep them on the road. She said most applicants need funds for tires and brakes.
“Over the years, the program has rolled and evolved into a program where our main service is to provide car repair,” Alford said. “But, we have also learned that there is more to getting to work than just having a running vehicle.”
The Drive To Success program also helps individuals maintain insurance payments and pay off fines to help get their licenses reinstated — all factors that had been keeping them off the road and out of work, she said.
The program’s funding, which is about $15,000 per year, comes from a federal grant called the Community Service Block Grant. While the funds are helpful, they aren’t all encompassing, Alford said. Drive To Success is always seeking vehicle donations from local residents that can be gifted to low income families in the area.
Alford said the last several years they have received several donated vehicles which will help keep food on the tables of low-income families.
“We have a waiting list for people needing cars,” Alford lamented. “We’re not like Cars For Kids and other programs that are looking to scrap your donated car for money. What we are saying is that your neighbor is going to have your donated vehicle. You’re donating a car to a neighbor in need.”
The car can be 20- or 25- years-old and have 150,000 miles, or be in mint condition. The only caveat is that it must run. The donations are tax-deductible and come with a nice thank you letter and the peace of mind of having helped a local family.
“If anyone thinks that they’re ready to sell their car, or you think it’s too old and we wouldn’t want it, just please give us a call,” Alford said. “It doesn’t have to be pretty. It can have dents. It just has to be able to go down the road safely.”
To learn more about the program, or to donate a used vehicle, visit http://www.grundyco.org/kendall-grundy-community-action/ or call (630) 553-9100.
The applicant household has to be at or below 125 percent poverty level. Your application will be reviewed and you will be notified within one month of your status. You may need to be placed on a waiting list if funding is not available.