About Way to Go:
Mission: To empower low-income, working households in Harrisonburg-Rockingham to improve their quality of life by assisting them with their transportation needs.
A lack of reliable and affordable transportation is often the primary barrier to a person maintaining employment, accessing essential community services, and reaching overall well-being. Way to Go was founded to provide a mechanism to get good, used vehicles donated to persons trying to become more self-sufficient. Way to Go has since expanded service offerings to low-income workers to also include financial assistance with: vehicle repairs, monthly vehicle insurance payment, DMV vehicle fees, monthly car loan payment, gasoline vouchers, driving lessons to obtain driver’s license, work shuttle trips, or other urgent transportation-related problems that may interrupt employment if not addressed. Additionally, Way to Go offers a used vehicle finance program, WorkCars, in partnership with Farmers & Merchants Bank.
For most working individuals and families in Harrisonburg-Rockingham, owning a car is central to productivity and self-sufficiency as public transportation is not widely available outside the urbanized areas. However, buying, financing, and keeping a reliable car is fraught with dangers and problems which is especially true for our clients.
The clients served by Way to Go include a highly diverse demographic. This includes, but not limited to, families headed by a single mother with young children, people with lower levels of education, ex-offenders, grandparents raising their grandchildren, immigrants and refugees, domestic abuse victims, unskilled workers, and households with a member who has a disability. The households we serve are most often living below the Federal Poverty Level. However, we also serve local residents who earn more than the official Federal Poverty Level, but less than the basic cost of living and are referred to as Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed (ALICE).
In 2016, of the 214 families served by Way to Go, 64% (or 138 families) had a household income less than 100% of the Federal Poverty Level and a staggering 93% (or 214 families) below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level. These households are extremely vulnerable and subjected daily to the difficult realities faced by poor people in our community. They often work two or more part-time jobs, yet have no benefits. They rarely know their work schedules more than a few days ahead of time and must struggle to make child care fit into whatever hours their employers have decided they want them. They are also frequent visitors to the “payday” and “car title” predatory lenders and often end up in legal and financial “black holes” which causes them even more financial hardship. Way to Go is recognized as a highly effective “intervention” in addressing the multiple problems they must address. If we can keep them mobile, they are much better prepared to deal with their other difficulties.
Having reliable and affordable transportation affords our client with the independence to access our community’s resources, assets, and amenities to ensure basic needs are met for a better quality of life. The ability to freely access the community in which they live provides them choices and opportunities that would not be possible without reliable and affordable transportation. Essentially, adequate transportation empowers them to move forward in their lives and build a better future for themselves and their families.