For a non-profit that’s all about vehicles it was a no-brainer. This summer Vehicles for Change is using a vehicle – a funky painted-up van, to be precise – to promote its mission of refurbishing cars for low-income families who need transportation either to get a job or maintain one.
On Friday, the group unveiled its new “art van,’ decorated by artists from the City Arts apartments in the Station North District, with support from PNC Bank and Precision Tune Auto Care.
Thanks to the artists and the corporate sponsors, “we have a great way to engage the community and explain why we are unique,” said Vehicles For Change executive director Marty Schwartz, at a press event at Hopkins Plaza in downtown Baltimore.
With artists Ashley Johnson, Shana Teel and Danny Stuelpnagel on hand, Schwartz and representatives of sponsoring companies showed off the van, which has been painted with an upbeat cityscape. PNC employees and executives joined in the event, adding their own decorative touches (either wielding a paintbrush free-handed or taking advantage of handy stencils.)
Supporting Vehicles for change is one of the ways PNC “works to have an impact on low and moderate income communities,” said Franklin N. McNeil, Jr., the bank’s community consultant. (McNeil noted that the bank also supports the Women’s Housing Coalition, Helping Up Mission, Beans and Bread and The Latino Provider’s Network.)
Since it started in 1990, Vehicles for Change has awarded more than 3,500 cars to families in Maryland, Washington and Virginia, Schwartz said. Recipients are able to buy the cars at a low cost and are also offered a payment plan to help them further, if they can’t pay in full on the spot. Car donors, in return for their donation, receive a significant tax break, Schwartz said.
The effect on the lives of recipients, though, is the major goal of the program. Those who get cars, Schwartz said, typically go from making $18,000 a year to making $23,000 a year.
To add your support or artistic contribution to the Vehicles for Change art van, check it out in its travels this summer. It will be exhibited at Artscape along with the other art cars typically featured at the July 15-17 Baltimore event.
The van will also make stops at the Annapolis Arts & Crafts Festival on June 11, Columbia Festival of the Arts on June 12, Taste of Reston in Reston, Va., on June 17, and Roots Fest on June 25 in Baltimore.