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Goodwill gives free car to employee

Lebanon Donations Attendant Benefits From Nonprofit’s Wheels-to-Work Program

As Goodwill donations attendant Shelley Pope started the engine, honked the horn and tested the radio of her “new” car, her daughter looked on, teary-eyed.

“It’s bittersweet,”  Stephanie Ramsey explained. “I mean —  it’s only bitter because Bobby can’t be here to see it. But I can’t think of anybody who deserves this car more than her.”

Bobby Jenkins was Shelley’s boyfriend of the past two years. She had cared for him through many months of chronic illness, but his death on May 8 was unexpected. Stephanie said her mother had not had many reasons to smile in recent weeks, so the gift of a car came at a particularly good time.  

On Thursday, Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee presented Shelley with a used but reliable 1999 Lexus ES300 sedan through the nonprofit’s Wheels-to-Work program. Goodwill established the program in 2013 to  provide vehicles given by Goodwill donors to Goodwill employees who need reliable transportation to get to work.

Goodwill’s Director of Donations Danny Rhodes brought the car to Shelley while she was on the job at Goodwill’s Donation Express Center at 1414 W. Main St. in Lebanon. 

Shelley called her daughter to come and see the car, which looks new, thanks to body work and a fresh coat of gray paint partially donated by Maaco in Nashville.

“It’s absolutely gorgeous,” Shelley said.

Shelley has worked for Goodwill for six years, first as a lead retail associate and now as an attendant at the donation site in Lebanon. Prior to joining Goodwill in 2014, Shelley was unemployed after working in a fast food position and other temporary jobs that came to an end. 

In 2015, unfortunate circumstances led to Shelley losing her home and most of her belongings. Since that time, Shelley, who is now 48, has slowly rebuilt her life. She has an apartment but has been without transportation for three years. 

Five days a week, Shelley has walked about two miles — a 35-minute trip — from her apartment to her job, regardless of the weather. She also walked on all her personal errands, saving any extra money she might have for Uber rides to take her boyfriend to the doctor.

Danny said despite the personal challenges she has faced, Shelley always provides excellent customer service, often receiving compliments from Goodwill donors. 

“Shelley represents the best of Goodwill,” he said.

Shelley says the car she received on Thursday will change her life. She can now easily run errands, take her clothes to the laundromat or go see her two daughters and seven grandchildren.

“And I won’t have to walk to work anymore. It might even help me get a promotion,” she said, smiling and winking at her supervisor. “It’s gonna be great.”

More Information on the Wheels-To-Work Program

Seven people have applied this year to receive a donated vehicle through the Wheels-to-Work program. A selection committee made up of Goodwill employees from various departments helped to determine who was eligible to participate. To qualify for the program, participants had to meet certain qualifications, such as being employed full-time for one year, having a valid driver’s license and a good driving record. A total of 16 people have received vehicles through the Wheels-to-Work program since it was established in 2013. Several employees remain on a waiting list for automobiles, but the program is dependent on the donation of vehicles in good condition. People who choose to donate vehicles to Goodwill support not only the Wheels-to-Work program but also Goodwill’s mission of changing lives through education, training and employment. For more about donating a vehicle click the link below.

DONATE A VEHICLE

DONATE A VEHICLE

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