SHIFTING INTO HIGH GEAR: DONATED VEHICLE TO HELP GOODWILL EMPLOYEE HELP OTHERS

With a crowd looking on and cameras rolling, Christine McCrury settled in behind the wheel of her Audi A4 Quattro five-speed. She started the engine and eased her foot off the clutch — just a little too quickly. The car stalled.

But for Christine, whose life has been a veritable handbook on overcoming adversity, this was not even a bump in the road. She smiled, turned the key again and drove smoothly away.

On Thursday, July 6, Christine became the thirteenth person to receive a car through the Wheels-to-Work program, which helps employees and clients of Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee who need reliable transportation to get to work.

Christine, a lead sales associate at Goodwill’s Lexington store, was handed the keys to the Audi during a ceremony attended by co-workers and media at Goodwill headquarters in Nashville. The car was donated by a generous Franklin resident.

“I’m very excited today, because this car is going to open new avenues for my life,” Christine said.

Christine appreciates opportunity in a way that few others could. When she was a toddler, Christine and two young siblings were the victims of a terrible child neglect case. They were left without adequate food, clothing or supervision for long intervals over the course of two years. Their biological parents, both alcoholics, were charged by authorities but fled on bail, and the children were sent to an orphanage.

Christine and her sister were placed with loving foster parents who eventually adopted them. Christine grew up determined to not only avoid the mistakes of her biological parents but to also make a difference in the world.

As an adult, she worked a number of jobs, including stints helping the homeless at drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers. She also volunteered with CASA — court-appointed special advocates for children. She married a pastor and lovingly raised four children. And she has always avoided drugs and alcohol, being all too aware that addiction runs in her family.

Part of Christine’s approach has been to nurture a “servant’s heart.” Working at Goodwill, with its mission of changing lives through education, training and opportunity, has allowed her to serve the community while helping support her family. She came to Goodwill six years ago after her hours were cut at another job.

But getting to work has often been a struggle. For the last three years, Christine and her husband have shared one vehicle — a van he uses for daily church activities and to assist a local fire and rescue unit. Christine has had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. every day to take him to work or else rely on others to drive her to her job at Goodwill. The early hours have even caused her some sleep-related ailments.

Christine’s manager says she is an excellent employee with the potential for advancement who has only been held back by her lack of transportation. Now, Christine will be able to drive herself to work when and where she is needed.

To qualify for a car, Wheels-to-Work participants are required to meet certain qualifications, such as being employed at least 32 hours per week and having a valid driver’s license and good driving record. After being notified of acceptance into the program, participants must complete training classes on budgeting, defensive driving and car maintenance.

In Christine’s case, because she was to receive a car with a manual transmission, she also needed a few lessons in shifting gears. On Thursday she proved once again that persistence and determination are key on the road to success.

Car’s Donor Chose ‘Empowering’ Wheels-to-Work Program

After buying a new car, Henry Newbold no longer needed his used Audi A4 Quattro. But the Franklin resident didn’t want to just sell it for a relatively small amount of money. He wanted to help somebody.

“The car was well-maintained and reliable,” Newbold said “I really wanted to find a home for it  — to put it in the hands of somebody that could take advantage of it.”

Newbold began researching charitable car donation opportunities online and found Goodwill’s Wheels-to-Work program.

What Newbold likes about the Wheels-to-Work program is that it benefits employees or clients of Goodwill — people who seek help from the nonprofit organization to overcome a barrier to employment, such as a disability, a history of incarceration or a lack of skills. Goodwill’s mission is to change lives through education, training and employment.

Goodwill’s founder, the Rev. Edgar J. Helms, referred to the concept as giving someone “a hand up rather than a handout.”

Newbold also appreciates that the Wheels-to-Work program helps those same people achieve even more by providing them with transportation.

“That’s empowering or enabling someone to be able to take advantage of what Goodwill does,” he said. “It’s perfect — it just makes common sense.”

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