The Carma Project has followed a different route this year by providing donated used vehicles to assist two social service agencies.
The Elizabeth Fry Society and NOW Canada Society were handed the keys to a 2006 Honda Odyssey van, donated to the project by Kelowna orthopedic surgeon Steven Krywulak, and a 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser, donated by the Kelowna centre for Adult & Teen Challenge, respectively.
The 15th and 16th vehicles given away by the Carma Project, started in 2010 by Integra Tire Kelowna owner Bruce Stranaghan and his wife Penny, was a deviation from the past where single families in need were chosen as recipients.
Penny said with two vehicles ready to give away, her callout to different local social service agencies for potential nominee recipients resulted in two return calls, about 40 minutes apart, asking about the potential to donate the vehicles to organizations that rely on charity support.
“We saw the potential for these vehicles to help hundreds, thousands of families rather than just one,” said Penny Stranaghan.
The donation also endured a panic moment when one of the original two vehicles up for donation blew a head gasket and was beyond repair.
“We started to scramble to find a replacement and that same day, the Adult and Teen Challenge Centre stepped up with another vehicle donation. They came through in the clutch, ” she joked.
“The Carma Projet has been very fortunate to have the businesses and individuals support us and we have had several that have been on board since the first project. As the project grows, the support from the community grows,” she added.
“We would like to make special note of their participation and recognize their kindness and generosity. What goes around comes around.”
Integra accepts used car vehicle donations and gives them a complete mechanical overhaul before giving them away, with the support of their auto shop resources and staff.
For Steven Krywulak, he was looking to give away his Honda Odyssey to someone in need, but was surprised to find out how difficult it was to actually give away a vehicle, because of the bureaucratic red tape and tax issues.
“A social worker told me about the Carma Project…and I liked the idea of giving the vehicle to a charity where many families rather than just one could benefit from it,” Krywulak said.
Lindsay Hammond, victim assistance worker with the Elizabeth Fry Society, and Liz Talbott, executive director of NOW Canada, both said the vehicles will assist their clients who often lack transportation to meet court or other social service agency appointments.
“We dealt with about 3,500 to 4,000 appointment requests last year and about half of those people did not have a vehicle,” said Hammond.
“This is going to benefit hundreds of families both in getting to court when they are required to be there and in seeking support from other agencies.”
The Elizabeth Fry Society advocates for an end to domestic violence and poverty in Kelowna while seeking justice for women and children victimized by violence.
NOW Canada provides front-line services and programs for women and youth who have experienced addiction, abuse, mental health or sexual exploitation challenges in their lives.
Mayor Colin Basran commended the Stranaghans for supporting the Carma Project and helping to create a more inclusive community.
“You are helping to build a sense of community for everyone and helping to make sure that everyone feels included,” Basran said.
“We want Kelowna to be a place where everyone feels they belong…and this project is changing people’s lives in our community.”
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