Mike’s Story, a Volunteer Experience at Wheels4Hope
Hi, I’m Mike Sweeney. I’ve been volunteering at Wheels4Hope since 2008. It is a very rewarding experience because I see how my work directly affects our neighbors who need a hand up. When I make that short drive on Lake Wheeler Road from our home in Apex to the Wheels4Hope garage in Raleigh, I always have a big smile on my face! I believe Wheels4Hope is the best car donation program.
I volunteer for a variety of tasks at Wheels4Hope several days a week. I’m a volunteer mechanic, sales manager, driver, marketer, and someone who fills in wherever needed. It is a blast!! Our annual goal is to place and sell almost 300 cars in the Triangle area. That sounds like a big job and it is!! It takes a dedicated staff, helpful partners, and an army of volunteers to make it happen. I’m proud and delighted to be one piece of this rewarding ministry.
Wheels4Hope turns donated cars into blessings for people in our community by evaluating and repairing them in our garage. We use a 123 item checklist covering safety, operational, and mechanical items. Identified problems are repaired by staff and volunteer mechanics. Only then are the cars ready for placement through our Program or offered for public sale.
Wheels4Hope is partnered with more than 30 agencies in the Triangle area that refer the recipients for our Program vehicles. The recipients pay a highly reduced price for a car which provides them a safe, reliable vehicle; allowing them to improve their lives without car payments!! The testimonials from recipients found on our website will give you examples of the value our Program vehicles add.
At our monthly orientation meetings for recipients, I have the pleasure of conducting a vehicle orientation for them. Our recipients not only purchase a car, but as owners they are responsible for maintaining it. Many times this is their first car ownership experience, so I like to get them off to a good start with a brief class that is interactive, informing, and sometimes entertaining.
The most moving experiences I have at Wheels4Hope are car blessings. A car blessing is when a recipient takes ownership of a Program car. The Wheels4Hope staff, volunteers, the recipient, someone from their sponsoring agency, and sometimes the donors gather around the car. We meet and greet each other, share a meaningful reading, and pray together. I am always delighted when I get the privilege to present the keys to a recipient. Presenting keys at a car blessing ties together the whole Wheels4Hope experience for me.
Part of our mission is offering low-priced, reliable used cars to our community. Our public sale vehicles receive the same rigorous evaluation and repairs as our Program vehicles. They can be purchased by anyone. Proceeds from these sales are used directly by Wheels4Hope to allow us to repair all of the cars and be a self-sufficient 501(c)3 charity. As a volunteer sales manager, I post pictures, descriptions, and prices on our website www.wheels4hope.org/show-room and on Craigslist. Our sales days are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Please come by and take a test drive!!
When I return home to Apex after working on car donations at Wheels4Hope, I may be a little greasy and dirty, but I still have that big smile on my face!! Come and volunteer with us, there is plenty of opportunity regardless of your automotive experience!