31 Aug Rainy days and Mondays always get me down
Problem # 1
It’s Monday, and sure enough it’s raining. No, it’s not just raining. It’s more of a
deluge falling from thick, pewter cloud cover without a hint of blue sky. And the
cheerful TV weatherman says it’s going to continue that way for most of the day.
You finish a cup of coffee and sigh as you trudge to your car, thankfully parked in
your garage. You check for an umbrella and pray for a parking spot close to the
entrance when you get to work.
Problem # 2
As you turn the key in the car’s ignition, you hear a sound that destroys your
commute. Actually, you hear a lack of sound. As you press the car’s ignition button,
nothing happens: no engine roaring to life, no stutter of a motor trying to start, not
even a click. You have a brand new battery and a full tank of gas, so the solution to
starting the car can’t be simple. You’re going to need to find another way to get to
work on this rainy Monday.
Problem # 3
There is no one to call for a ride. Your spouse is on a business trip. You just moved
here, haven’t even met your neighbors, and have no family in the area. But maybe
you could put on rain gear and walk to the nearest bus stop?
You live in Forsyth County, Georgia, and there is no public transit. You could call
Dial-A- Ride, the on-demand transit service in Forsyth. If they have a van available,
you might be able to schedule a pick-up, but you’ll still be late for work. And since
the service is only available from 8:00-3:00, you won’t have a way to get back home.
If you walk to work, you’ll be soaked to the bone before you get there, and you’ll
arrive at least two hours late. You’re going to have to call in to work and let them
know your predicament. Hopefully, they’ll be understanding.
Your supervisor is not at all sympathetic. She tells you to find a way to get to work –
on time – or to start looking for a new job.
Sounds like a pretty miserable Monday, doesn’t it? But these problems are regular,
daily frustrations for people without transportation in Forsyth County, like a recent
client of The Place, whom I will call “Mary.”
A forty-three year-old single mother with a daughter in high school, Mary had fallen
on hard times. Homeless, Mary and her daughter lived in their car until it was
repossessed. The two moved to a storage unit for a short time. Then a kind friend
got them into an apartment. They couldn’t afford utilities for heat and electricity,
but at least they had a bathroom. Mary came to the place looking for help to climb
The Place can provide Mary with temporary financial assistance, budget counseling,
job coaching, training, and free groceries from the Market, but these are stopgap
solutions to Mary’s problem. She needs a steady job. Mary is willing and able to
work. To secure and maintain employment, she needs transportation.
One of the first questions Mary’s potential employers will ask her in an interview is:
“Do you have a reliable means of transportation to get to and from work?” Reliable
doesn’t translate to a friend who sometimes is available to give you a lift, walking
seven miles in rain, heat, or cold, or calling a cab (when you can afford it). In
Forsyth County, reliable means possessing a car.
In the last several months, The Place developed a program and plan to accept the
donation of cars from donors. A local garage provides a free inspection of donated
vehicles, which are then tuned up and/or repaired by automotive students at a local
school, with parts purchased by The Place. A committee reviews requests and needs
to determine which clients would most benefit from a vehicle to help them become
self-supporting. One previously donated vehicle went to a couple that needed a car
to take their ill baby to and from regular doctor appointments and treatments.
There are many neighbors like “Mary” in Forsyth County, caught on the “need a car
to get a job, need a job to pay for a car” merry-go- round. Consider donating your old
or used vehicle to The Place. You’ll help rescue someone caught in a downward
spiral he or she can’t escape alone. “We make a living by what we get, we make a life
by what we give.” Sir Winston Churchill.