By Car Program Helps Single Mom Fulfill Dream, Create Better Life for Family

Carolyn, a single mother of four, was trying to make a better life for her and her children by going to school to become a dental lab technician, but when her car broke down it changed everything. “My car broke down and after it was gone it changed my life tremendously,” Carolyn explained. Not only did Carolyn struggle to run errands, get to class and take her kids to activities, she worried about how she would find a job after her impending graduation.

 “Without transportation I felt trapped, stuck and coming to a dead end. I had no mobility. My children walked with me and carried groceries home. I rode my bike back and forth from school. Occasionally people would help, but I lost my freedom,” Carolyn said. “Living on the excess of my educational loans meant that the bus was not an affordable or convenient option. I dropped my children out of their sports activities because I couldn’t get them back and forth. My graduation was nearing and I would need to find a job immediately or lose everything. No transportation, school, children, bills, employment, it was too much. I felt overwhelmed and slipped into depression,” she explained.

A friend of hers told her about IMPACT Community Action Agency’s By Car program after reading an article about it in the Columbus DispatchThe By Car program is a matched savings fund where for every $1 a participant saves towards the purchase of a vehicle, the program contributes $2. Participants also take classes on budgeting and managing the costs of car maintenance and insurance. “I saved $1,333, which is like a million dollars to someone like me,” Carolyn said. “I sacrificed believing that if I got a car, it would change my life. Being able to contribute my own funds meant that this was not a hand out, but a hand up. I helped myself in this process. I am very proud of that.”

Carolyn is now the proud owner of a 2000 Chevy Impala. “When I got the keys to my car, I cried,” she said. “I felt restored and accomplished.” She also graduated from school and has a job as a dental lab technician making $14 an hour, fulfilling her dream and earning enough to care for her family. 

“Transportation was the greatest barrier to my future,” Carolyn stated. “The ripple effect is that I am now gainfully employed in a job on my career path, making $14 an hour! The next ripple is that my children will have the opportunity to learn and compete because I will be able to transport them to practice, and we can function as a family for the first time in a long time. They have a mom that they can be proud of and not have to worry so much.” Carolyn continued, “I own my own vehicle, you could never know how that feels. Now I have a chance at a better life for myself and my children. This feels great!”