Meet Jean…

In Vermont, transportation is a lifeline. A car is often the only option people have to get to the grocery store, to the doctor’s office, and to work. Buying a car can be a stressful and complex process filled with research, negotiations, and decisions. Adding to the complex process of buying a used car, English is Jean’s second language. Jean was thrilled to have found a late-model used car – his credit was good, he was able to get a loan, and the payments seemed affordable. So, Jean signed the papers, climbed in his car, and was on his way!

Jean in his purple uniform and safety glasses at his workplace

Until the engine blew up a few short months later.

Jean thought the dealership would fix his car. So he paid to have the car towed back to where he had bought it just a few months earlier. What Jean didn’t realize was that his car was sold “As-Is” and there was no warranty. The $2000+ repair would be Jean’s responsibility, and now his car was stuck at the dealership. Jean was devastated. Because of his shifts, public transportation was not an option. 

Without a car, Jean struggled to get to work on time, and sometimes it was hard to get to work at all.

Jean’s supervisor talked to him. As a good, reliable employee, his supervisor wanted Jean to be at work doing his job, but Jean needed to get there on time. If Jean continued to be late, he would get points against him which could result in him losing his job. But Jean was running out of option. 

Until Jean’s supervisor referred him to the Working Bridges Resource Coordinator, who is on-site at Jean’s workplace, to see if she could help him get to work on time and navigate his complicated car situation…

Jean met with the Working Bridges Resource Coordinator after his shift was over and they talked about his options. Jean had access to the Income Advance Loan program through Working Bridges. The loan could help him pay for part of the repair. But that loan alone was not enough. Jean figured that he could, “stop paying the car loan now that the car was not working – then he could put that amount into his savings each month to pay for the repair.”

Fortunately, the Resource Coordinator was there to help Jean understand his choices – and their potential outcomes. She explained that by signing that loan paperwork he had agreed to pay the full amount of the loan – whether the car was working, or not. If he didn’t continue his car loan payments, he risked losing the car! 

Jean and the Resource Coordinator worked together to coordinate temporary rides with co-workers so he could get to work on time and keep his job. 

Then they tackled his budget to figure out how he could save the money he needed to pay for his car repair. The Resource Coordinator is also a trained Financial Coach and helped Jean outline a savings plan and spending plan. She also discovered that Jean had a tax return coming back – that money could be put into his savings to put toward his car repair! 

Today, they are still working together to make sure Jean stays on track. With his hard work building savings, continued employment, and a few rides from his co-workers, Jean hopes to have his car repaired and ready to drive in the New Year! But until then, Jean continues to need your help. As a supporter of Green Mountain United Way, you’re making sure that Jean keeps his stable employment and does not fall into poverty because of something as simple as a loss in reliable transportation. 

Because sometimes a solution is as simple as having a reliable way to get to work on time.

Join us – together, we are the UNITED WAY. You are the neighbors caring for neighbors. You are the reason working Vermonters have somewhere to turn when they struggle – because UNITED, you are making a difference. We thank you and recognize that without you, this important support would not be available to people when they need it most! 
Help Jean with a #GivingTuesday gift to Green Mountain United Way!

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Ready to learn more? Read about our Working Bridges program, the United Way Volunteer Connection, or other great work happening in Central and Northeastern Vermont!

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