Inspiration for Wheels4Hope
Wheels4Hope began at West Raleigh Presbyterian Church in 2000. John Weistart (a law professor) and Chris Simes (an engineer and “car guy”) saw a need among struggling families for reliable transportation. John found in his contract law studies that the options for economically-challenged citizens to buy a car were limited, and many times people were taken advantage of by having to pay inflated prices and interest rates. Yet, a vehicle is often the critical link to getting and keeping a job, meeting family obligations and pursuing educational opportunities. “In fact, most of what we take for granted as normal family life requires a car. It is only when our car goes in the shop that we taste what some families face daily, a sense of isolation and limitation,” said Simes. During a meeting at West Raleigh Presbyterian in the fall of 1999, Weistart and Simes expressed concerns to their congregation about the low-end used car lots that often prey on the poor. The pair worked through a mission group at the church to address the need for affordable, reliable transportation for low-income citizens by opening an all- volunteer garage. On May 22, 2000, papers were officially filed to form a non-profit organization that came to be known as Wheels4Hope. It is a fully qualified 501(c)(3) charity. Thanks to the generosity of local citizens, partner agencies and garages, corporate sponsors and congregational partners, Wheels4Hope has been blessed and now serves the Triangle, Triad and Western regions of North Carolina.