“I feel like the kid in ‘Miracle on 34th Street,'” said Caress Pouncy, the new owner of a refurbished 2010 Nissan Altima as she received her keys at the Automechanika Chicago, the largest auto aftermarket trade show in the world. Not quite a miracle, her car was part of a wider effort by various organizations dedicated to fighting poverty.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Pouncy received the car on April 24th after being selected by Women With Drive (WWD) Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Chicago focusing on providing transportation to women mired in poverty. Her car was donated by the National Auto Body Council at the recommendation of WWD.
“The No. 1 reason welfare-to-work programs fail is because of unreliable transportation,” said Molly Cantrell-Kraig, founder of the WWD. “Communities have resources to train, suit and get women to the point where she can get a job, but transportation is where that process breaks down.”
Pouncy was accepted by the foundation after having shown that she not only faced severe obstacles during her life but that she is motivated to become self-sufficient. Pouncy, 28, was orphaned when she was 13 and has spent most of her life in homelessness. With her new car, however, she will be able to start her job as a welder at Midwest Fencing, becoming the first female welder the company has hired. She got the job with the assistance of the Jane Addams Resource Corporation.
“Now that I am receiving a car, I don’t have to look over my shoulder when I walk four blocks to the bus stop at five in the morning,” Pouncy said.
“Our role is to keep that woman moving forward,” said Cantrell-Kraig. “We’re not just about transportation, we’re about transformation.” She added that 56% of American adults living in poverty are women.
Indeed, the United States faces a significant homelessness problem. A Department of Housing and Urban Development report found that close to 600,000 people are homeless on any given night. There are 440,000 people in Philadelphia alone who live under the federal poverty line.