‘Ways to Work’ helps families move their lives forward by putting wheels on them

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Ways to Work, a national program, that provides financial education and short-term low-interest car loans to working families, with challenging credit histories, has recently been launched in San Diego, thanks to funds committed by both United Way of San Diego County (UWSD) and the Leichtag Foundation.

Ways to Work, a national program, that provides financial education and short-term low-interest car loans to working families, with challenging credit histories, has recently been launched in San Diego, thanks to funds committed by both United Way of San Diego County (UWSD) and the Leichtag Foundation.

The two funders selected Jewish Family Service (JFS) and Community Resource Center to implement Ways to Work. JFS is working with East County clients.
Ways to Work stresses financial skills, while teaching participants about insurance, budgeting and how to save for repairs for routine maintenance.

Nina Vaysburd, JFS Program Coordinator for Ways to Work said, “Clients initially have to go through free financial education workshops. “The next ones are scheduled January 22 and 28 at the Redwood Head Start office on Main Street in El Cajon. Additional workshops will be added,” she said. “This program is designed to give a second chance to people who have experienced unfortunate events such as home foreclosures, (which resulted in challenged credit) to improve their lives and credit if they’re willing,” added Vaysburd.

She explained that clients would primarily use the loan to purchase a reliable pre-owned vehicle, with a goal to enhance their ability to remain engaged in the workforce and better manage their lives. She added that the long term goals of the program are to help participants with their careers, reduce tardiness and absenteeism at work, access courses to improve their education and job skills, and meet their families’ needs, such as transportation to childcare, doctors’ appointments and school activities.

“We know that public transportation in San Diego is limiting. Community members, as well as research, have told us that having reliable transportation can be the catalyst needed to increase income and family stability,” said Shaina Gross, Vice President Impact Strategies & Mobilization for United Way of San Diego County.

Two of the East County Preferred Dealerships that JFS is working with are VIP Auto Sales, located at 9207 Mission George Rd in Santee, and Enet Autos, located at 775 El Cajon Blvd. in El Cajon.

At a recent event held at one of the other Preferred Dealerships, Drive Motors Superstore Inc., located at 3380 El Cajon Blvd. in San Diego, one of the participants in the program Fred Martinez, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native, who learned about the program through the Veteran’s Administration (VA’s) Homeless Outreach Program, showed off his steel blue 2003 Mazda, that he received two weeks ago. “I know it’s not a lemon, we got the Car Fax and I was happy that it only had one prior owner,” Martinez said.

Martinez, who was one of the first to be approved for the program, said, “This program has been a blessing for me. It brought me together with my kids.” His 14 year-old daughter lives in Encinitas and his 17-year old son lives in Riverside. “I was using public transportation to go see them, and by the time I left Encinitas, that bus stopped running, so I had to walk from Encinitas to La Jolla, and get another bus back home from La Jolla to my home in Normal Heights,” he said.

Participants in the Ways to Work program must meet minimum eligibility requirements, including income limits based on household size, be a San Diego County resident, be eighteen years old or above, have challenged credit history, be employed or enrolled in an education or training program for at least four months, and be a parent or caregiver of a child. For information, call Jewish Family Service at (858) 637-3008.

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