The United Way program provides cars to people in need

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Three local families gained independence this week as recipients of a refurbished vehicle through the Rebuilding Wheels Rebuilding Lives program.

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Lajeunesse students refurbished two vehicles for a few Windsor families while Leamington District students worked on another car and handed over the keys to a Leamington family on Thursday.

“We are new to Canada,” said Leamington resident Paulina Martinez Morales. “This vehicle will help me graduate from St. Clair College, as well as provide transportation to English classes for my husband and after-school activities for my three children.”

Since 2014, the program offered by United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County saw 440 students working on 15 donated vehicles.

“This vehicle alleviates the time burden and stress of using public transit to get to work, school and doctor’s appointments,” said Melissa Luce of Windsor. “It’s especially important to me because my family members live with different disabilities, including epilepsy and diabetes.”

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Melissa Luce is shown at EJ Lajeunesse High School on Wednesday, May 18, 2022. Students presented a vehicle they repaired to Luce as part of the Rebuilding Wheels Rebuilding Lives program.
Melissa Luce is shown at EJ Lajeunesse High School on Wednesday, May 18, 2022. Students presented a vehicle they repaired to Luce as part of the Rebuilding Wheels Rebuilding Lives program. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Access to transportation can be a barrier for some families, and having a reliable vehicle can be a game-changer. Reliable transportation can help people find stable employment, access post-secondary education, and help parents support themselves and their families.

“I am a single mother of three children, as well as a grandmother of two children,” said Alicia Collier of Windsor, from East Windsor. “After experiencing layoffs during the pandemic, I graduated from St. Clair College. This vehicle will support me as I begin a new career.

According to the website activetransitwindsoressex.cachallenges with the frequency and reliability of public transit are factors that affect people’s ability to participate in the economy through work or shopping.

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“The program offers a simple solution that ensures families have fair access to economic opportunities in our region,” said Lorraine Goddard, CEO of United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County.

Student mechanics benefit from the opportunity to work on a “real” project that also supports the community.

This was the first time students from the Leamington District had participated in the program. Six students and teacher Mark Dewhurst took the van and brought it up to safety standards while doing some minor body work.

Recipients are selected by United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County through an application process that balances financial and family needs with the ability to afford the ongoing cost of car ownership.

If members of the public are interested in donating your vehicle to the Rebuilding Wheels Rebuilding Lives program, please contact United Way at 519-259-6169. A charitable tax receipt can be provided.


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