Driven to help others

Event’s aim: Bring attention to nonprofit

CHARLES TOWN – Barbara Bayes feels proud of all the work accomplished by Good News Mountaineer Garage, but she wants to make more Eastern Panhandle residents aware of how the nonprofit helps West Virginians.

[cleeng_content id="949726071" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]“We don’t toot our own horn a lot,” said Bayes, a onetime social worker who lives in Charleston, where Good News is headquartered. “We’re helping people struggling to get out of poverty. So often, West Virginia has this image as so far behind the rest of the country, but in this respect we’re ahead of most other states. We’ve found a way to get people off welfare and to become taxpayers.

“It’s West Virginians helping other West Virginians. It’s a win-win for all of us.”

On June 22, Good News will host a free car wash in Charles Town, with the goal of raising awareness of the statewide organization and how it accepts donations of used motor vehicles, repairs them and then passes the cars along to West Virginians who need transportation help in order to get off public assistance. Donors qualify for state and federal tax deductions.

At the daylong car wash event, Good News representatives will be on hand to answer questions – and even accept car donations on the spot.

“In most of West Virginia, it’s awfully hard to hold down a job if you don’t have a car to get back and forth to work,’’ Bayes said. “When West Virginia University did a study on why low-income residents have trouble keeping a job, the No. 1 reason was a lack of reliable transportation.’’

“If you don’t have a car, you can’t work and if you’re not working, you’re sure not able to save up to buy a car.’’

Founded in 1999, Good News has helped provide reliable wheels to hundreds of West Virginia residents and has been described as “economic development – one job at a time.”

The program works this way: Individuals and businesses donate vehicles that are working or can be repaired without a big investment, Good News mechanics get them road-ready, and then cars are matched to in-need families identified by the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

“We’ve been very fortunate because there are so many people in West Virginia who want to help their neighbors,’’ Bayes said. “Rather than sell a car or trade it in, they’ll give the car to us,” Bayes said. “They know this is a way to break the cycle of poverty in West Virginia – to help people help themselves.’’

In exchange for a vehicle, donors get not only a federal income tax deduction but may

also qualify for a direct state tax credit for half the value of the car or truck.

“Most of our cars come from everyday people,’’ Bayes said. “A lot of times, the total tax benefit ends up being very close to what they would have gotten from selling the car or trading it in. This way, even middle-income people are financially able to help.’’

Bayes said the donations literally change lives. “One woman we recently worked with had been walking along a railroad to take her baby to her sitter and then her older child to preschool,’’ she said. “Then she caught a bus to go to school to get her GED and then repeated the whole process every evening.

“After she got her car, she called and said, ‘You have no idea how much I appreciate this.’ Having a car has made her life so much better and already opened up so many possibilities for her family.”

Many of the cars that are donated already are older and even once they’re rehabbed, they won’t run forever, but Good News provides its recipients with low-cost maintenance and repairs to help the vehicles stay on the road as long as possible.

“We want our recipients to be able to work for a couple of years without worrying about a car payment,’’ she said. “Everyone we work with has gone through job training. They get help with budgeting. We try to give cars that get good gas mileage to those who have to drive the most miles to work and the gas guzzlers to those who don’t drive as far.

“We offer them help in paying for six months of liability insurance so that they’re starting off with a solid foundation.”

How successful has Good News been? Many car recipients have completed job training, landed good-paying jobs and purchased cars on their own – and some have even become Good News car donors themselves, Bayes said.[/cleeng_content]

 

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