A local single mom already is thinking of ways to pay it forward after she received a life-changing gift Wednesday morning.
Jessica, a Lexington resident and mother to a 6-month-old daughter, is the first 2016 recipient of a vehicle from The Cooperative Ministry’s Autos for Opportunities program. Some cars donated to the Columbia-based nonprofit are turned into funding for supplies and goods for clients, but those that are low-maintenance and in good working condition are given to individuals in need.
Autos for Opportunities applicants must be employed and be able to afford the costs associated with keeping a vehicle running in order to be eligible. Jessica has been steadily employed for several years and used to walk 8 miles to work.
Jessica’s situation was further complicated when she became a victim of domestic violence. Wanting to protect her daughter, Jessica moved back in with her family but later had to relocate to a women’s shelter in Lexington.
Jessica has leaned on others at the shelter for transportation to doctor’s appointments and to her job. Now with her own wheels, she said she’s already planning to pitch in and help out those who don’t have vehicles as a way of giving back where she’s living.
“This is a real blessing … I felt like God was going to (provide),” she said.
A car of her own also will help Jessica continue with school to become a nursing assistant, something she was motivated to do after becoming a mom.
“But I’m not stopping there,” she said. “I want to get my associate’s degree.”
The Cooperative Ministry gave away 12 cars last year to through Autos for Opportunities.
“In a study of upward mobility … transportation was listed as crucial for families trying to escape poverty,” Cooperative Ministry Executive Director Beth Irick said. “Autos for Opportunities can be life-changing. We have seen it first-hand.”
There are more than 30 people on Autos for Opportunities waiting list as the program is experiencing a shortage of donated vehicles.
“We appeal to the Midlands to help us keep more people working and self-sustaining,” Irick said.
Donations to The Cooperative Ministry are tax-deductible. Find more information on giving and volunteering on nonprofit’s website.