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How a Springfield non-profit helped a Buffalo, Mo. woman get a new car

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 6:42 AM CDT
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Dallas County, Mo. (KY3) - A vehicle is more than just a box with four wheels and an engine. It’s how we discover new places, connect with the outside world, and get to work to make ends meet. But for Dallas County resident and single mother Trish Thiesen, it was an eight-year-old money pit that she had to rely on.

“I was driving a Chevy Malibu that had over 300 thousand miles on it,” says Thiesen. “I was just dumping money into it. And my folks still have it, but it wasn’t reliable. And having a two-year-old daughter it’s just not safe having her out on the road in that.”

But she couldn’t afford to do anything to change that, especially now with vehicle prices high -- and inflation cutting into how far her paychecks can go.

“I can’t just come up with that type of money,” explains Thiesen.

People in Thiesen’s situation are who the Community Foundation of the Ozarks wants to help the most. A few months ago, the Springfield non-profit started the “Let’s Get to Work” fund. The goal is to help people in the Ozarks overcome barriers to transportation by helping them make car repairs, pay for fuel cards, or make a down payment on a new vehicle. Here’s how it works: donations are collected by the Community Foundation, then sent to non-profits in 14 southwest Missouri counties. The OACAC office in Dallas County decided to use its funds to help single parents.

“We ended up helping, I believe it was four or five single moms, actually purchase better cars,” explains Kathy Banks with Dallas County OACAC. “We also helped a few others pay for repairs on their vehicles.”

One of those single moms was Trish Thiesen.

“It’s slick. It’s like having a brand new vehicle,” says Thiesen.

Back in February, she received three thousand dollars for a down payment on a new car, meaning a more reliable way for her to get to work, and a safer ride any time her daughter is in the back seat.

“Oh, it’s too fancy for me,” says Thiesen. “I mean, there are buttons I don’t even know yet. I have good air conditioning and good heat. And I was just blown away. It really really helped me out a lot.”

Now thanks to a $150 thousand dollar donation from an anonymous donor, the fund will continue. That money is being sent to five non-profits, $30 thousand each, to help more people like Thiesen make a change for the better.

“We’ve had this fund open for not even half a year so far and have already more than half a million dollars from it,” says Aaron Scott with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. “This latest chunk is to agencies that have already gone through their initial round of funding. So that, to us, tells us there’s still a great need out there.”

“I would like to be able to help several more in our community,” explains Banks. “The amount of pride that comes just from them being able to make it to their jobs, or look for jobs that might be further away with better pay, makes a big big difference in a lot of their lives.”

“Anybody who gets to take place in that, I think it’s awesome,” says Thiesen.

Funds have been sent to 16 non-profits. You can find a list of participating organizations and how to apply for help with transportation costs here: https://www.cfozarks.org/transportation.

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