In Cincinnati, one working car may mean the difference between privation and stability for a woman struggling with poverty.
Affordable housing will always be a flashpoint of concern for poverty activists. But affordable transportation inflicts its own damage to a family.
Women, in particular, are vulnerable to the poverty that accompanies a lack of transportation. Even without local studies to measure the numbers, organizations like the Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
know that inadequate transportation is a solid barrier in a woman’s fight to become economically self-sufficient.
“Take a couple,” explains Vanessa Freytag, executive director of the Women’s Fund. “If they have one car, the husband usually gets the car. In a single mother's situation, she often doesn’t know how to take care of it. She’s also trying to get her kids to day care. Men don’t [usually] have to do that.” Many low-wage hotel and restaurant jobs are often far from the inner city homes of single mothers, creating more transportation issues.
Meghan Cummings, development officer at the Women’s Fund, sees a perfect storm of challenges for women in Cincinnati. “The jobs are outside the beltway, child care is harder and harder to find, and there’s not affordable child care near the jobs," she says. "Women don’t have a personal vehicle, and we don’t have a transportation system with enough spokes and layers that will help get women to where they need to go.”
With few local resources available to ease women’s transportation needs, 1000 Women Strong, a project of the Women’s Fund, found the perfect “vehicle” to combat this problem. “Strut Your Stuff,” scheduled for Sept. 24 in Pleasant Ridge, is an interactive car care clinic that teaches women the basics of maintenance and offers tips for visiting the mechanic. Expert mechanics like Dale Donovan, host of the The Car Show on 55KRC, will answer questions and encourage women to take care of their cars with confidence.
Best of all, a portion of the ticket cost will fund the Samaritan Car Care Clinic, a local outreach program that provides free car maintenance and repair for women living in poverty. Impoverished or not, “feeling more confident and safe about your vehicle is important for every woman,” Freytag says.
: The Greater Cincinnati Foundation always accepts donations.
Get Involved: Contact Vanessa Freytag
to find out how you can help.
: Visit the Strut your Stuff event and support the Samaritan Car Care Outreach.
By Becky Johnson