The holiday season started a little early for Shelly Martin this year.  As part of their Rides for Hope program, Farmers Insurance, partnering with Family Promise-Union County, presented Shelly and her family with a gently used and fully refurbished 2004 Nissan Altima. 

As a graduate of Family Promise-Union County’s shelter program for homeless families, Shelly has found housing but she could not afford to replace her old car once it died.  This became especially problematic recently when her company changed the location of her job, adding hours to her commute each day on public transportation.

“I’ve been getting up at 5 o’clock in the morning because we don’t have a car,” said Martin.  “My daughters go to a charter school across town and I have to get to work so we have to take buses.  Now, this is wonderful.  I will drive them to school tomorrow morning.  I don’t have to stress about it anymore.”

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Farmers Insurance developed Rides for Hope as a way to help military veterans and other deserving families across the country.  Working in cooperation with local auto repair shops, car dealerships and other companies involved in automotive repairs, Farmers provides vehicles that are repaired and eventually donated to families chosen by local social service organizations.

“At Farmers we’ve recognized that access to a safe and reliable vehicle is one of the most important resources a family can have,” said Doris Dunn, Director of Community Relations for Farmers Insurance. “Over the years we’ve donated a number of restored vehicles to help families in need.”

Beyond finding a job that pays a living wage and affordable housing, transportation is one of the biggest challenges for low-income families.  Trying to juggle getting children to school and making it to work on time is a constant struggle.  A program like Rides for Hope provides a huge step forward in their journey towards independence.   

Geleen Donovan, Executive Director of Family Promise-Union County, said, “The Farmers Insurance Company car donation program is life-changing for the recipient. Shelly was in danger of losing the job she has held for three years because they switched her location.  She was really at her wit’s end.  Nearly two dozen people worked on the acquisition and refurbishment of this vehicle for Shelly and her children—many hands and much love. We are very grateful.”

Vendors that participated in preparing Shelly’s car include: C&L Auto Body in East Hanover, Lynnes Automotive Group in Bloomfield and Keystone Parts in Kearney.