Monday, March 8, 2010

Stark County program repairs cars to get people to work

STARK COUNTY -- Lalana Vales, of Massillon, is a busy mother, student and worker. Every day, seven days a week, she gets up at 4:30 a.m. to deliver newspapers in her secondhand Ford Explorer. At least she did until the Explorer's transmission went out.

Lalana borrowed her Mom's car for a while, but that couldn't go on forever.

Repairs to her SUV would cost about $1,100.

Recently Lalana learned of a program through Stark County Job and Family Services that will pay up to $1,000 toward vehicle repairs to allow a resident to get to work, look for work, or attend classes that may lead to work.

"You must have at least one child under age 18," said Tom Thompson, of Job and Family Services, "and your household income must be no more than 200 percent above the federal poverty level."

On Thursday, the county had Lalana's SUV towed to a Massillon auto repair shop where its worn out transmission is being replaced by a guaranteed used transmission.

The county will pay $1,000 of the bill. Lalana will owe the remainder, about $100.

"The program's like a small miracle," she said. "I almost lost my car and I would have lost my job."

Each of Ohio's counties decides which job assistance programs will be of the most help to resdients locally. Check with your local county Job and Family Services office.

Besides the car repair program, Stark County also provides four-month bus passes for workers, people seeking work and those in job-related training who don't have their own vehicle.

The local Job and Family Services office also has children's booster car seats available at no charge, to allow families to comply with new state laws requiring travel restraint of children beyond toddler age.

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