LONDON — Melody Lemar, an employee at Highlands Diversified Services (HDS) in London, is the most recent participant to be matched with a vehicle through Goodwill Cars to Work. The vehicle placement took place on Friday, February 5 at the HDS.

Goodwill Cars to Work is a nonprofit program that offers secured auto loans to applicants with no or low credit scores. The mission is to connect Kentuckians with affordable transportation so they can maintain employment, grow in their careers and achieve self-sufficiency. Participants are matched with a free Goodwill career coach, and Jessica Bastin played a vital role in helping Lemar navigate the process of becoming a vehicle owner.

Lemar said, “I'm really grateful of where I am today, especially for my job. I've got a second chance, and I've found a new way to live. I'm blessed that HDS has helped me get a vehicle, and now I can be independent and not rely on others help. I will be able to help people the same way I was helped. I am grateful for so much, and I believe God works in mysterious ways.”

Lemar’s employer was more than supportive during the application and placement process.

Kim Chasteen of the company said, “It is exciting to take part in helping others achieve their goals. I am fortunate to work for a company such as HDS that allows me to partner with many different agencies to offer support and assistance to our employees. Seeing Melody complete the process that allowed her to get a car was a great pleasure. Thanks to everyone that helped make this happen.”

Through the program, Goodwill offers participants the following:

• Down payment match of $500 ($1,000 for Goodwill employees)

• Affordable monthly payments between $150-$210 per month

• Fixed 5% interest rate regardless of credit score or history

• Interest reimbursement once the loan is paid in full with no late payments

• Free credit health review and six months of financial coaching to help you establish and/or build credit

Goodwill has partnered with Oxmoor Auto Group, Apprisen and Park Community Credit Union to break down transportation barriers and assist program participants to build or establish credit. Oxmoor Auto Group is helping to match participants with a vehicle that meets their needs. Park Community Credit Union has partnered with Goodwill to administer the program loans and provide education to participants on the lending process. Apprisen provides each participant with a financial foundations class, credit health review and six months of financial coaching.

Goodwill also worked closely with the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) to make this vehicle placement a success.

Brett Traver, the executive director for SKED, has worked with regional workforce development and HDS staff for the past nine months to help develop a more reliable workforce and retain employees to help HDS meet its contractual requirements during this challenging time. His introduction to Goodwill’s Regional Manager of Career Services Director Becky Wilson and the Cars to Work Program earlier this year opened the door to and put Melody behind the driver’s seat of her car.

“SKED is pleased to have played a small role in seeing Melody get the direction and connections she needed to qualify for the loan to get the car,” Traver said. “It’s small, yet deliberate steps, like this, and the cooperation of some of the region’s best workforce development specialists that can put local manufacturers on the road to growth and their employees in positions to improve their own economic standing across our region. We wish Melody many years of effective service at HDS.”

In 2020, Goodwill placed more than 100 participants into vehicles. For more information about the program, visit www.goodwillkycarstowork.org.

Goodwill Industries press release.

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