RED BANK, NJ (Oct. 5, 2021) — Through the generosity of Sansone Jr.’s 66 Automall Hope For a Ride program, Lunch Break, the Red Bank social services and food security resource center, is helping a local woman struggling financially with access to work transportation. The program partners with non-profit organizations to donate vehicles to families or individuals who, because of life circumstances, are in critical need of a car. Amelica, a participant in the Lunch Break Life Skills employment coaching program, was presented with a 2004 Ford Escort recently at Sansone Jr.’s Route 66 Automall, 3401 Route 66, Neptune.
Amelica was thrilled to receive the donated vehicle. It was a life-saver for this hard-working woman and son Cajou, who recently traveled cross country, bound for New Jersey, with the promise of a brighter tomorrow.
With her husband and daughter still at the family’s home in New Mexico, Amelica moved to Monmouth County before the COVID-19 pandemic began, hoping for better education opportunities for her son, who has autism.
Mother and son spent half the year in a motel room at a Red Roof Inn in Eatontown, while Amelica concentrated on enrolling Cajou in a special needs program in the Tinton Falls school district. With only six months in savings for housing costs and food, Amelica thought it would be enough for survival until she found employment. But the economic fallout from the pandemic proved otherwise. Her husband’s work hours were reduced. Businesses closed; hiring opportunities were scarce. Amelica needed a job.
She sought assistance from Life Skills mentor Jan Oberdick, who helped Amelica fine-tune her resume and update employment skills. A year following their meeting, she was hired for a position in overnight security at Seabrook Village in Tinton Falls. There was a catch, however: the job was a distance from her home. Amelica needed transportation and was unable to afford a car. For months, she was forced to walk to work — sometimes more than three hours one way — in heat, cold, rain, and snow. “Amelica is one strong lady,” said Oberdick, referring to her mentee’s perseverance.
Thankfully with help from Life Skills Operations Manager Mary Ann LaSardo and Sansone Jr. Automall’s Hope For a Ride program, Amelica now has a green light to a promising future.
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Whether providing transportation for financially insecure families for trips to work and/or school or medical treatments, Sansone Jr.’s 66 Automall is “proud to support our community.” And Lunch Break gratefully acknowledges this donation, which will help ease the burdens for those who, like Amelica, struggle to find jobs, or travel to healthcare visits or the food store because of a lack of reliable transportation.
While Amelica was nearly in disbelief over her new vehicle, there was none more deserving than this U.S. Navy veteran, who emigrated from Haiti as a young woman.
“Sansone Jr.’s 66 Automall has been working hard for many years to assist those in need in our local community with our Hope For a Ride program. Having a vehicle is essential to everyone’s daily life and we understand how life circumstances can prevent deserving and hardworking families from getting the transportation they need.” said Paul Sansone Jr.
Through Hope For a Ride, more than 50 local families in need have received safe and reliable vehicles. These vehicles have been “a blessing” to many families who were in need of transportation to work, or a way to get their children to school or transport their loved ones to medical care.
“We are so grateful to have the opportunity to work with local churches and organizations like Lunch Break, which help us find those who are truly in need in our community,” said Sansone Jr. The Life Skills Program, established in 2017 as a community resource for skills training, business attire and resume and employment coaching, now has expanded, offering participants ESL, job preparedness financial and technology classes, as well as one-to-one mentoring. Life Skills also recently launched a mentorship program in collaboration with The Source at Red Bank Regional High School targeting at-risk juniors and seniors in need of college prep guidance and vocational training.
Lunch Break freely provides food, clothing, life skills and fellowship to those in need in Monmouth County and beyond. The resource center strives to bring individuals full circle, by caring for their emotional and physical well-being, as well as providing guidance and the necessary skills to achieve self-sufficiency.
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