In 1999, SARET Charitable Fund began a car donation program along with offering repairs to those who had cars but could not afford to repair them. More than fifteen years later this transportation program covers; car donations, repairs, and other transportation related aid such as gas cards, and bus and train vouchers for those who do not own cars.
The final catalyst for this transportation program happened in 1999, when a teacher we aided, secured employment at a Cook County community college. A week before she was to start teaching, her old car finally could no longer be repaired. Through an article in the Naperville Sun, we received that same week a donated car and this teacher was able to get to her new job. She is still there 15 years later.
Since that first car in 1999, SARET continued donating cars, and in so doing opened many doors to employment for about 12 households each year. Then in 2010 the number of cars donated to the charity plummeted to a trickle and the charity began to focus most of its efforts on expanding its car repair programs which were already well established. We wanted to help more families and raise more needed funds as the volume of calls grew each year. One car repair at a retail price could cause a low income family to face a housing crisis, because funds diverted towards car repairs instead of rent could start the eviction process.
Housing aid is our biggest program. In 2012 we helped 195 families. The transportation program was the second largest, helping 117 people, 45 car repairs, gas cards, insurance, registrations, and some to bus and train vouchers.
Our transportation program has had a deep impact on the lives of many of our clients. Some of you may recall the Tribune story in 2011 about Nancy, a college educated but homeless woman awaiting a hip joint replacement. Her car broke down in December, 2010 and fortunately we got a car donation two months later. Until that miracle occurred, we kept her in a motel for two months because she could not walk and could not utilize the PADS program without a car. No other agency was able to assist this woman with her medical crisis. Nancy still owned that car in 2013, had finally received the long awaited operation, and is now able to walk again
Our repair program is possible thanks to three automotive repair facilities which serve our clients. The Tire Connection and Bob Olson’s clinic, both in Lombard, have been the back bone of the car repair program, along with the Warrenville Car Clinic, which assists us with residents closer to that location. A fourth mechanic who assisted by driving to repair stranded cars suffered a severe back injury and we are praying for his recovery
These “mechanical angels” for lack of a better description, have opted to assist us by providing top quality mechanical care at much lower prices. The repairs provided cover tire related problems, brakes, and an array of other parts needing either repair or replacement. In 2011, Bob Olsen focused on helping 9 clients pass their emission tests when other mechanics were charging hefty sums that these clients just could not afford. He did most of his work at a reduced cost. Had they not passed the emission test, they would be forced to take their cars off the road.
Sadly, we need more donations to assist the car repair program and we could use more car donations that go to needy families whose lives turn around with a car.
Please support this incredible program and be assured that your contribution only goes to our clients and not to administrative costs.