CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Getting around the city can be hard if you don't have a car.
If you have children, having a reliable car is almost a necessity. One group is connecting families with cars.
Walking into their building is an opportunity to earn a car. No one gives a client a car there. It's a chance. A chance for clients to improve their quality of life.
When Latoya Dorn leaves “Changing Gears” and gets into her minivan, she knows her vehicle is safe, but mostly she's grateful that she has one at all.
She hasn't had once since an accident in 2016. Then she heard of a non-profit called, "Changing Gears."
“I heard about Changing Gears through my cousin Melanie who goes to Crossroads. For you to go through Changing Gears you have to go through City Link and City Link puts you through classes,” said Latoya.
“Then when they're approved, we sell them a car at half off, no interest loan, and access to a discounted repair program,” said Joel Bokelman of Changing Gears.
People donate cars. Volunteers fix them up and clients work their way towards being car owners.
Clients put in “sweat equity” by working on vehicles for others in the program.
“They teach you how to do an oil change. They teach you to know to change tires. They have you putting struts on the cars or putting a window in,” said Latoya.
The goal is to empower families, helping them get around with ease instead of relying on public transportation.
“So many of our clients are located in the center of the city and a lot of the better-paying entry-level jobs are out and around 275 and so it just takes too long to get there a lot of times by bus,” said Bokelman.
“I don't have to catch Ubers anymore and make sure I tip the Uber driver ‘cause I'm like they're dropping me off and they're dropping my baby off at preschool,” said Latoya.
In five years, the non-profit has changed hundreds of lives and built countless relationships with people in our community.
Changing Gears helped change Latoya's life and her daughters' lives.
“When I first got my car, my daughter, Journee got in the car and she said ‘mommy, it's perfect.’ So, when she got into the van and said that, I knew I made the right decision,” said Latoya.
The organization is always looking for donated vehicles and also people who can volunteer their time fixing them up. They take vehicles in any condition.
98 percent of the clients have been able to successfully pay off their car loans.