Steering low-income families on the road to recovery
Vehicles for Change teams up with Precision Tune
Susan Whitney/The Gazette
When Candis Peterson needed repairs on her 1998 Volkswagen Beetle, she was relieved to learn she could get it done for free at a Beltsville repair shop.
Peterson purchased her car from Vehicles for Change, a Halethorpe-based nonprofit organization that provides vehicles and repairs for low-income families and single mothers in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia.
When she started having problems with the car, she was directed to Precision Tune Auto in Beltsville.
"The cars are not new, so whenever I have an issue I'm able to call them and they just tell me where to get it fixed," she said.
Vehicles for Change teamed with Precision Tune, based out of Leesburg, Va., to handle vehicle repairs on all cars sold under the six-month warranty or up to 6,000 miles.
Be Spencer, manager of the Beltsville Precision Tune, said she is happy she has the opportunity to participate in the program.
"I'm always looking to help people out who genuinely need help," she said. "I guess we all come from humble beginnings."
Peterson, of Wheaton, hadn't owned a car since 2002, and between classes at Gallaudet University in the District and Montgomery College in Takoma Park, and taking her two-year-old daughter Lyela to day care, spent a lot of time waiting for the bus before buying her car for under $1,000.
The Kelly Blue Book value of a 1998 Volkswagen Beetle is between $4,800 and $5,500.
"I got it a week before Christmas," Peterson said. "It was the best Christmas present of all time. I was just so grateful. Words cannot express my gratitude."
Robert Falconi, Precision Tune president and CEO, said the partnership is a good way for the company to give back to the community without having to spend a lot of money.
"It helps people that are having a tough time getting a vehicle," Falconi said. "They get a well-maintained vehicle and they have a means to get to work."
Peterson said Vehicles for Change has "been a blessing."
"It's changed my life tremendously," she said. "Public transit isn't bad, but if you have a child, it's hard. I see the difference."
Vehicles for Change president Marty Schwartz said single mothers like Peterson are exactly who the program is aimed toward.
"If you're a single mom with a couple kids, you're looking at a two-and-a-half-hour commute to get your children to day care and yourself to work," he said. "You're getting up at 5 a.m. to get to an 8 a.m. job. All of the sudden you get a car and you have a 40-minute commute."
Schwartz said the partnership will help the organization run more efficiently and increase the number of cars it is able to sell.
"Our number one priority is car donations," Schwartz said. "We can have the greatest partners in the world, but if we don't have a car, we can't help anyone. Precision will help us tremendously in getting our information out to people who can get us cars."
E-mail Jonah Schuman at firstname.lastname@example.org.