When Sheri Byers got word of a single mother with three sons, including 12-year-old twins with autism whose father who had moved out of state, she went to visit them in their home. The bottom of the family’s car had rusted out and the heat was no longer working.
Byers’s visit was part of the Fremont Service Committee’s car ministry, which helps working families in Newaygo County, Mich., with transportation.
“At the time I visited, one of the twins came flying into the driveway and asked me if I brought them a car. I told him no, but that I was working on it,” said Byers. “They received a van a couple of days later. That day the mother left a message on my answering machine I could barely understand because she was crying so hard. She said the van was beautiful, and she was so grateful.”
Byers also received a second message from one of the twins, who was so excited about the van that he wanted to call himself to say thank you.
“This was the greatest gift I have received in my 10 years on this job,” said Byers. “When we wonder how much of a difference we actually make, I will always remember this family!”
This is just one of the many stories of people over the past 20 years who have been helped by the car ministry. The committee is made up of volunteers from Trinity Christian Reformed Church, First CRC, and Second CRC, all in Freemont, as well as Reeman (Mich.) CRC and New Community CRC in Newaygo.
In 20 years, the group has provided over 547 vehicles to qualified applicants and assisted with 466 car repairs. The car ministry was birthed to address a high level of poverty, lack of public transportation, and a lack of local jobs. Applicants are interviewed, offered budgeting classes, and connected with a local church. The ministry purchases cars through grant funding; it also receives donated cars and works with local mechanics for repairs.
While cars are the main focus, the ministry also assists families with appliances, furniture, clothing, and food donations.