Vehicles for Change debuts in New Mexico; provides safe, reliable transportation to those in need
Just in time for the holidays, a first-time collaborative between Vehicles for Change; Nusenda Credit Union; The New Mexico Office of the Attorney General; DriveTime Automotive Group, Inc., and WESST, a statewide small business development and training organization, is awarding safe, reliable vehicles to four local families.
Vehicles for Change, a Baltimore-based nonprofit that empowers families and individuals with financial challenges to achieve economic and personal independence through car ownership and technical training, came to New Mexico with support from the Attorney General’s office and DriveTime. It receives 99% of its car donations from the public; they then repair the cars to meet quality standards and award them for as little as $950 to eligible families referred by local social service agencies. Since 1999, Vehicles for Change has awarded 6,900 cars to low-income families, changing the lives of more than 24,000 people. A study found that 75% of Vehicles for Change recipients got better jobs and/or boosted their earnings an average of $7,000 in the first year of car ownership.
“We are excited to be part of this partnership of amazing organizations so focused on providing greater opportunities for worthy families in Albuquerque,” said Randi Lindsay, Vehicles for Change marketing coordinator. “For more than 20 years, we have seen first-hand how transformative a car can be to a family living in poverty in Maryland and Virginia and are looking forward to providing that same opportunity to families in New Mexico.”
The inaugural New Mexico recipients were referred by WESST; they are:
- Adriana Vilar, a single mom and community organizer with the Center for Social Sustainable Systems (CESOSS), which aims to preserve acequias and agricultural traditions in Albuquerque’s South Valley. She is a graduate of the University of New Mexico and is also a Certified Paralegal. She hopes to return to school to earn her law degree with an emphasis on natural resources.
- Karl Perkins, a single father who moved to Albuquerque from New York City in 1992 in response to an offer from a family member to come west for a fresh start after incarceration. He began small business ownership classes at WESST in 2004, and believes that his involvement in this education process and working on his small business saved his life.
- Reuben Preut, a lifelong resident of Albuquerque’s North Valley on his family’s farm, reengaged in farming after earning a degree from the Rocky Mountain School of Art and Design. Along with being a new father, he is a trainer with the Grow the Growers program with Bernalillo County, New Mexico State University, Agricultura Network, and the Thornburg Foundation. He also owns an independent farm focusing on regenerative farming, soil building, and native plant renewal.
- Ronsuelvic Cavlieri, a five-year resident of Albuquerque, who lived and earned a master’s degree in marketing and sales in her home country of Venezuela. She, her husband, and her family came to the United States seeking political asylum due to the political/economic situation in their home country, and in search of new opportunities and a better future for their children. The family owns Cacho’s Bistro, which serves Venezuelan food at the Rail Yards Market, Growers’ Market, and at their first brick and mortar location inside Albuquerque’s Sawmill Market.
“WESST believes that access to transportation and enhanced mobility are essential components of a growing economy and workforce,” said Zoe Otero-Martinez, WESST’s financial literacy program manager. “We are incredibly lucky to be able to work with DriveTime, Nusenda, the Attorney General, and Vehicles for Change to help transform people’s lives.”
Nusenda Credit Union has partnered with Vehicles for Change to service the loans with flexible and reasonable terms over a year-long period. The vehicle loan amount also includes a AAA membership.
“As a locally owned and operated not-for-profit financial institution, Nusenda remains fully committed to our mission to transform the financial lives of all New Mexicans,” said Nusenda President/CEO Joe Christian. “Many in the communities we serve have been financially impacted this year. Participating in partnerships such as this allows us to help New Mexico families with both reliable transportation and sound financial guidance that will benefit them for a lifetime.”
“We are honored and proud to partner with Attorney General Hector Balderas and our community partners to present these vehicles today.” said Scott Worthington, DriveTime Executive Vice-President. “Our mission is to create opportunities and change lives and we are doing that today by helping these families with a car that can take them to work, school, the doctor’s office, or to life’s other opportunities. We are proud of our company’s legacy of serving others and are grateful to Attorney General Balderas for his passion and leadership in pursuing this cause on behalf of the great people of New Mexico.”
“We must all support New Mexicans who need vital transportation resources to support their families, start small businesses that are the backbone of our economy, and ensure their health and safety,” said state Attorney General Hector Balderas. “This groundbreaking program is the start of a new opportunity for all New Mexican communities, and I am grateful to program partners, and most importantly to our initial recipients, who are truly ambassadors for a program that will change lives.”