NEW GARDEN >> A single mother of three children in Kennett schools, who has two jobs but struggles each week to put food on the table, has become an instant fan of local Rotary clubs.
Unable to afford even basic transportation and living well below the poverty line, she had to rely on others to get her to work and appointments. Homeless, she also used the services of Family Promise of Southern Chester County, a new initiative that provides temporary housing to local families in need.
But due to the generosity of two Rotarians – one in the Longwood Rotary Club, the other in the West Grove-Avondale Rotary Club, she got a car free of charge, gaining a new sense of independence she hopes will lead her to self-sufficiency.
The cars, a 2000 Nissan Altima and a 2000 Honda Civic, were donated by the Rotarians, one living in Avondale the other in East Marlborough. Family Promise then had the cars checked over at J&G Automotive in New Garden.
The cars needed a bit of work, and Giuseppe DeAngelis, owner of J&G Automotive, donated the labor, as well as some of the costs for the $600 in parts needed.
“I wanted to give them a car that will easily last them 15 to 18 months, without them having to do much except an oil change” DeAngelis said. “That way, they can use their money for things they need. In both cars, I changed all fluids, balanced and aligned the tires, checked the belts, pulleys and did exhaust work.”
Both cars are inspected, and Family Promise helped to pay for the titling fees, while some of the costs for registration fees went to the recipient.
DeAngelis said the cost for labor and parts would have exceeded $1,500. He said he sleeps better at night knowing he helped someone in need.
Sue Minarchi, executive director of Family Promise of Southern Chester County, said the Honda Civic will be kept until another needy family or individual is targeted. She said she is heartened to see people in the community step up to help those less fortunate.
“This single mother of three was depending on friends for rides, and this has been a godsend for her,” she said. “It’s given her the freedom to get to work on time and she is very happy.”
Minarchi said Family Promise is filled to capacity, serving 14 people (nine adults and five children). More than a dozen local churches and dozens of volunteers help to house and assist the homeless families in their journey to independence. Minarchi said for low-income families, even the smallest event such as an unexpected medical bill or divorce, puts them on the street.
“(The program) has been working fabulously with all the churches,” she said. “They have been unbelievably wonderful in hosting families, showing hospitality, giving families a warm place to stay and cooking meals for them.”
Members of the Longwood, Kennett and West Grove-Avondale Rotary Clubs also helped to provide “sweat equity” in helping to make the Homeless Resource Center in West Grove become a reality, and for donating more than $17,000 to the cause.
Last year, nearly 500 students were impacted by homelessness in the Oxford, Avon-Grove, Unionville-Chadds Ford and Kennett school districts.